Trust is a critical element of elder care. When a loved one is in an institutional setting, such as a nursing home, you have to believe they are being treated well. Otherwise, you would not have allowed them to move there.
This trust is fragile. Even a small possibility of wrongdoing – a medication error, a strange bruise, a personality shift – will prompt suspicion and questions. Rightfully so, because elder abuse occurs far more often than many people realize. Just ask the care staff.
Two-thirds of staff admit to abuse
According to an analysis by the World Health Organization, about one in every six individuals older than the age of 60 has suffered abuse while in an institutional setting. On its own, this is concerning for anyone with a loved one in such a place. However, a separate conclusion is even more troubling.
The World Health Organization found that two-thirds of staff in nursing homes and long-term care facilities self-reported abuse. That means they themselves admitted to seriously mistreating a resident in some manner within the past year.
The impact of abuse
The repercussions of elder abuse quickly ripple outward, causing serious harm to victims. This can be exacerbated by common risk factors, such as:
- The resident already being in poor physical health
- Social isolation
- A poor or nonexistent relationship with family members
- Stress, depression and other mental health ailments
The National Council on Aging cited one study that found an older individual who has been abused is three times as likely to die compared to an elder who has not been abused.
Because abuse can take many forms – physical or verbal abuse, confinement or isolation, active or passive neglect, sexual abuse and more – it is important loved ones familiarize themselves with signs of elder abuse. When care professionals fail in their duty, they can be held responsible. The sooner you notice and take action, the faster you can protect your loved one.