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Why is nursing home abuse so hard to track?

We know that nursing home abuse happens. In one study, 20 percent of the residents ended up getting abused by other residents, and that doesn't even take into account abuse coming from the staff. Why, then, has it been so hard to track this activity and gather accurate data?

There are a lot of challenges. For one thing, the residents are all elderly, so it can sometimes be hard to detect the difference between natural aging and abuse. Are a person's injuries from some sort of intentional abuse or due to an accident?

One top of that, a lot of residents have disabilities. These could be mental disabilities that make it hard for them to communicate. They may not remember what happened or understand what's going on. Even if they do, physical disabilities -- such as the inability to speak after a stroke -- could make it hard to tell anyone.

Therefore, a lot of abuse goes unreported. Whether residents don't even know they're being abused or don't have the ability to let people know, those reports don't always get made. This means it's often only discovered and tracked when the signs are recognized by family members. They may grow concerned about cuts and bruises, for instance, or the fact that a person simply seems depressed all of the time.

Nursing home abuse is just as serious as domestic violence or any other type of physical abuse. If you think a loved one is a victim, don't ignore it or wait for them to tell you; they may not be able to. Instead, look into your legal options to help.

Source: Medical Daily, "Elderly Abuse: In Nursing Homes, It May Not Be The Nurses But The Residents That Commit The Act," Justin Caba, accessed Nov. 30, 2016

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