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Lack of reporting makes nursing home abuse worse

Nursing homes make it possible to care for senior citizens with efficiency and respect. This is vital for people who have limited abilities to care for themselves. Regrettably, some caregivers and visitors to these facilities can take advantage of this situation.

A recent federal audit determined that more than a quarter of possible physical and sexual abuse of nursing homes goes unreported. At least 28 percent of total cases in 2015 and 2016 were not prosecuted. This makes accurate statistic analysis and better safety practices harder to establish.

There are several factors that contribute to hiding nursing home abuse and neglect from families and communities. Often, victims suffer from dementia, reduced memory or other mental disabilities that make it impossible for victims to understand what is happening to them.

Abuse is a difficult event to process mentally and psychologically. Even those who fully understand the abuse they have suffered will hesitate or fail to report incidents to management, family members or law enforcement out of humiliation.

The report states that Medicare, one of the federal programs that can respond to nursing home abuse, lacks the ability to oversee all facilities and possible incidents. Medicare can impose fines up to $300,000 on nursing homes that fail to report abuse, but the requirement is not fully enforced.

Physical, mental, sexual or financial abuse by caregivers, nursing home employees or family members must be reported for the sake of the entire community. Legal representation can help victims and their families take the proper steps for law enforcement and civil proceedings against offending nursing homes.

Source: The Star, "Our opinion: Action is required to oversee nursing homes," Sep. 05, 2017

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