Elder abuse is a very real problem across Florida and the United States as the National Council on Aging reports that it affects about one in 10 Americans over 60 years of age. It is a problem that may also continue to grow in the coming years now that a severe, statewide nursing shortage has many medical providers scrambling to employ capable, qualified nurses. The problem is also compounded by the fact that more Americans now have access to insurance than in years past, resulting in more visits to medical providers and higher patient loads for existing nurses.

An aging, growing population

Florida is already the oldest state in the nation, with nearly 20 percent of its residents aged 65 or older. While Florida’s population continues to age and grow faster than that of most other states, so does the state’s need for quality, patient-centered care as well. With the entire state experiencing a shortage of nearly 12,500 registered nurses already, and many new nurses opting to move into critical care and emergency room settings at hospitals, nursing homes and continuing care centers are struggling to adequately fill open nursing positions.

High demand for nursing skills at continuing care facilities

Registered nurses frequently take on lead roles in providing care for patients at Florida’s nursing homes. They may take on any number of tasks in such institutions, ranging from assessing and fulfilling the immediate needs of residents to working in conjunction with other medical providers to offer customized, personalized treatment and care.

The infliction of elder abuse

Though elder abuse can be inflicted by anyone on staff at a nursing home or continuing care facility, from registered nurses to personalized care attendants and other support staff, the nursing shortage does raise a red flag for many who have loved ones in such facilities. Without a large pool of candidates from which to draw, these residential operations may be forced to make hires they otherwise would not, potentially placing residents in danger.

Signs of elder abuse

Indications of elder abuse may be overt, such as visible bruising, burns or broken limbs, or they may be more subtle and hard to spot, such as bedsores or insufficient hygiene. An abused elder may suddenly become fearful of other people, or he or she may start avoiding activities that once were enjoyed.

If you suspect your loved one may be suffering because of elder abuse at a nursing home or continuing care facility, consider consulting with an attorney.