Springfield, IL- Census data from 2010 shows 13 percent of the American population, approximately 40.3 million, is composed of people over the age of 65, according to the National Council of Elder Abuse. Over the next few decades, as the Baby Boomers continue to age, the population of seniors is expected to swell to 20 percent. With a growing elderly population, there is the likelihood that more seniors will be exposed to abuse or neglect as they enter nursing homes and other long-term care facilities or require the assistance of a caregiver.
What is Elder Abuse and Neglect?
According to the NCEA, elder abuse and neglect is defined as “intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder.” This includes willfully or unintentionally denying a vulnerable adult’s basic needs.
Financial exploitation is also an issue for seniors, and costs our aging population billions of dollars each year.
While it is nearly impossible to pinpoint an exact number of seniors who are abused or neglected, there is some data to show how widespread the problem may be. According to the NCEA “The most recent major studies on incidence reported that 7.6%–10% of study participants experienced abuse in the prior year.” One in ten seniors admitted to being subjected to abuse that does not include financial abuse.
Ninety percent of elder abuse and neglect are perpetrated by family members. But in another study, reported by the NCEA, 50 percent of long-term care facility staff admitted to neglecting a patient at least once in the past thirty days. As the population ages and enters long-term care facilities, it is logical to assume that elder abuse is poised to grow over the next few decades.
Adding to the problem is the fact that merely one in fourteen incidents of elder abuse or neglect is actually reported so it can be difficult to come up with solutions to this looming problem. However, financial exploitation is more widely reported.
Choosing the right nursing home can go a long way in preventing an elderly loved one from abuse or neglect in a long term care facility, it isn’t a complete assurance they won’t be subjected to some form of mistreatment. After you have cross-referenced a nursing home, you can help make it a safer place by reporting any mistreatment or abuse you happen to witness or detect the signs off. And can better protect your loved one by making frequent visits.
Aside from reporting elder abuse and neglect to the relevant authorities, victims have other legal recourses they can pursue. An Illinois nursing home attorney can discuss the civil actions you can take to hold a facility or negligent caregiver accountable for the harm that has come to your loved one. In many instances elder abuse victims can have the negligent party cover their medical expenses and pay damages for their pain and suffering.