Why is Nursing Home Abuse So Unreported?
Despite growing awareness in society, and the many state and federal laws that have been enacted, nursing home abuse is still a huge problem in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also largely unreported. As many as five million elders are abused every year but only one in every 14 cases is properly reported to the authorities, according to the National Council on Aging. So, why is this? Our Tampa nursing home abuse attorney explains more below.
Other Issues are Blamed
Nursing home residents often suffer from cognitive issues or physical decline, such as dementia, due to the aging process. These issues can prevent elders from knowing when abuse is happening, but they can also mimic many of the symptoms abuse victims exhibit. Even in nursing home settings, where staff members are required by law to report suspected abuse, the symptoms of abuse are often attributed to a resident’s age or their medical conditions.
Not Recognizing the Signs of Abuse
Of course, abuse cannot be reported if the signs are not recognized. Family members, other residents, and even inexperienced staff members may not be able to recognize the signs of abuse. The most common of these are as follows:
- Sudden and unusual changes in mood, behavior, or sleeping habits,
- Depression, anxiety, and fear,
- Bloody or torn clothing or undergarments,
- Poor nutrition, dirtiness, or dehydration,
- Unexplained injuries,
- Refusing to let seniors visit friends and family members alone, and
- Financial documents that have been tampered with, such as forged signatures.
The above are just a few of the common signs of nursing home abuse. Any time anything seems different or suspicious with a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to investigate potential abuse that may be occurring.
Fear of Retaliation
Elders are usually admitted to nursing homes because they require round-the-clock care that family members cannot provide. This means that seniors in nursing homes are usually completely dependent on staff members for their care. When abuse or neglect occurs residents are then very fearful that if they report abuse, they will not receive the proper care they receive. It is extremely difficult to report wrongdoing when the perpetrator may retaliate against you and cause further harm.
Shame is very common among abuse victims. Sadly, it does not only impact nursing home residents but victims of shame across all genders and ages. Nursing home residents often feel ashamed that they could not defend themselves against abuse, or they feel shame that they were taken advantage of.
Failing to Understand How to Report Abuse
Family members, other nursing home residents, and even staff members in these facilities are not always sure how to report abuse. If you suspect your loved one is being abused, you can always call 911, regardless of where you are located in the country. In Florida, you can also report suspected nursing home abuse online to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Call Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Tampa Today
While nursing home abuse is largely unreported, it is critical to shine a light on it whenever you think it is occurring. At Kohn Law, our Tampa nursing home abuse attorney can help you report the abuse and file a claim against the liable party so your family receives the full and fair compensation you deserve. Call or text us now at 813-428-8504 or chat with us online to book a free consultation.