Nursing Home Abuse

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Aaron Delurey
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Approximately 1.4 million elderly people reside in long term care facilities, such as nursing homes. The families that admit their loved ones to these long term care facilities believe that excellent care is being provided to them. Many of the residents in nursing home settings receive adequate health care, but a numerous amount of other residents are subjected to abuse and neglect. It is believed that nearly one-third of all nursing homes have residents that are subjected to abuse either by staff or other residents (Masters in Health Care). Definitions of elder abuse vary. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what actions or inactions constitute abuse. Besides a variety of definitions, the major types of abuse that occur in nursing homes are categorized into physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, financial or material exploitation. The solution to such nursing home abuse is rather simple. To prevent the inhumane treatment of the elderly in nursing homes, the nursing shortage needs to be addressed.

 The scandal of elder abuse in nursing homes appears to be new phenomena, but in reality this god forsaken crime has occurred for decades. Due to an elder’s physical and cognitive make up, they are not able to defend themselves from the heinous acts of abuse by their caregivers. Abuse in nursing homes is mainly thought of as physical aggression, but the elderly are subjected to psychological abuse also. One would think that no man or woman could commit abuse onto a helpless individual; however the issue of elderly abuse in nursing homes has been a growing problem. In 2003, there were 20,673 complaints of abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation on behalf of nursing home and "board and care" residents (American Association for Justice). By 2010 the number of elderly abuse complaints rose to a number between one million and two million (National Center on Elder Abuse). A study prepared by the staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that thirty percent of nursing homes in the United States (5,283 facilities) were cited for almost nine-thousand instances of abuse over a recent two year period. The common problems of the study included untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene. These common problems can be categorized into the major types of elder abuse in nursing homes. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation are considered the major types of such abuse.

Physical abuse is defined by the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Physical abuse may include but is not limited to such acts of violence as striking (with or without an object), hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse (National Center on Elder Abuse). Nearly sixteen-percent of nursing home abuse cases involve physical abuse (Brent & Adams). An article published by ABC news interviewed Helen Love, a 75 year-old grandmother of three that was a victim of nursing home abuse. Helen told ABC, "He choked me and he went and broke my neck. He broke my wrist bones, in my hand. He put his hand over my mouth." Two days after the interview, Helen Love died. Nursing home officials did not report her beating to a state official who was at the nursing home at the time. Ultimately, though, Love's attacker served a year in prison. An investigation revealed that he had been fired by two previous nursing homes for aggressive behavior. A report by the Senate Select Committee on Aging found that many nursing home abuse cases are not immediately reported to law enforcement...
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