Nursing Home Abuse - America's Growing Elderly Population

The population of America’s elderly, those age 65 and over, has been rising steadily since the turn of the 20th century. The same would be true of individuals who are the ages of 85 and over. Those numbers are also rising rapidly. It has been projected that by the year 2050, people age 65 and older will make up as much as 20% of the total United States population. What seems incredible is that the fastest growing segments of America’s population are those who reach the age of 85 and older. This information comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau for the year 2008.

As America ages, so do the instances of elder abuse. Some describe abuse as mistreatment, neglect or even intentional actions all of which fall into the category that put the elderly at risk. Mistreatment may include intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to an elderly person. Often times these acts are committed by those who are closest to the most vulnerable, like a caregiver or other person who stands in a trusting relationship. This could be a family member, a home healthcare person, a nursing home nurse or even a doctor taking care of an elderly person.

What’s very important today is that those who do work with the elderly must be professionally trained. Because of the numbers of those who are considered elderly is rising so quickly, the need for professionally trained persons to care for those most likely to be harmed is in great demand.

As far as elder abuse, it is apparent that there is higher rate of female elders who are abused than male elders. That statistic is derived from the National Center on Elder Abuse, Westat, Inc. (1998); The National Elder Abuse Incident Study, Final Report. Washington, D.C.

It cannot be overlooked that the elderly are vulnerable, but so are those who are stricken by physical or mental disabilities. There are approximately 19 million U.S. adults age 18 to 64 that have some form of disability; U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Those with physical or mental disabilities are just as susceptible to abuse as are those who are elderly. The disabled may be abused by medical providers, daycare workers, family members, doctors, nurses and others who come in contact with the disabled. Some of the disabled are institutionalized and some are not. Whether in a hospital setting institutional or at home, a disabled person like the elderly may be taken advantage of, abused and injured.

Of the elderly, those who are afflicted with dementia or other mental capacity diseases like Alzheimer’s disease are susceptible and are at greater risk of elder abuse. More than 5 million Americans over the age of 65 have a form of dementia. Half of those individuals are over the age of 85, which is the fastest growing segment of the population.

What is very distressing is that a 2009 study showed that close to 50% of individuals who suffer from some form of dementia have experienced a kind of abuse in recent times. Often those afflicted with dementia are mistreated by caregivers.

Elder abuse can take place in any location, but most likely in nursing homes, community settings, private homes and medical facilities. As of 2008, 3.2 million Americans are residing in nursing homes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2009) Nursing Home Data Compendium. Washington, D.C.

It is imperative that those who know of elder abuse report to the appropriate authorities. Signs of elder abuse are often times not seen or identified by professionals who work with the elderly perhaps because of the lack of training or the lack of the number of personnel overseeing the care and treatment of the elderly. It is worth noting that the elderly are frequently reluctant to report their own abuse to family, friends and caregivers for a variety of reasons. The elderly person may be embarrassed or unable to comprehend the severity of the mistreatment. Therefore, it makes it essential that those of us who visit friends, family and loved ones at nursing homes or long-term care facilities report any signs or symptoms of abuse.

If you or a loved one has been suffering or died as a result of nursing home abuse, contact Kreisman Law Offices.

Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago and Illinois nursing home abuse cases for more than 40 years. Kreisman Law Offices has prevailed in trials and settlements in Chicago, Illinois and surrounding communities and has successfully resolved cases for those injured or abused in nursing homes for these many years.

With our years of experience in trying and settling nursing home abuse cases, Kreisman Law Offices provides the best possible services to our clients and have achieved unsurpassed results. Our service is unmatched. Please call us 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or complete a contact form online.

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