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Stop nursing home neglect before it begins

People are entitled to safety and respect regardless of age or living arrangements. Although elder abuse in nursing homes is a relatively rare violation of a resident's or family's trust, it still poses a significant problem in Florida, home to the largest senior population in the United States.

Statistics on abuse in nursing homes are difficult to find, as experts believe that most offenses take place in private without witnesses. Seniors who are victims of elder abuse are also unlikely to report all offenses out of humiliation or not realizing the gravity of the situation.

Neglect is a grave related issue, and can be even more difficult to investigate since the defining characteristic of neglect is the absence of care and other activities. This is a problem that is best solved with preparation and communication before neglect can cause serious health and psychological complications.

Signs of nursing home neglect includes many subtle indications that require keen and intentional observation. Check rooms for dirty or season-inappropriate clothing, as well as dirty surfaces and bedding. Look at rooms for needed repairs, insufficient exits and other hazards to health and safety.

Environments in nursing homes can also be gravely neglected. Facilities require adequate plumbing, heating, air conditioning and/or electrical services for the number of residents. If these services are absent or not enough, the nursing home may be neglecting their senior residents.

Law enforcement agencies, including adult protective services, may be contacted with suspicions of nursing home abuse. Stay in touch with these services to find out the status of investigations. A legal advisor may also help to analyze evidence and weigh legal options to end improper practices.

Source: Healthinaging.org, "Preventing Elder Abuse and Neglect in Older Adults," accessed Aug. 30, 2017

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