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Nursing home neglect likely more common than most realize

Intended to be places of peace, rest and care, nursing homes and residential care facilities are often prime options for families in California who can no longer care for elderly loved ones. With health care professionals and other skilled workers available night and day, it is no wonder that these facilities typically offer a safer and more caring environment for older individuals in need of highly specialized or time-consuming care. However, nursing home neglect tends to be more rampant that most people realize, putting the elderly and medically compromised at risk for serious injury or even wrongful death.

Based on a survey where elderly individuals self-reported instances of abuse, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that at least 10 percent of elders suffer from some type of abuse. Abuse included in the study ranged from emotional, sexual or physical abuse to financial manipulation. It was noted that since this study did rely on people to self-report the abuse, the real number of abused elders is likely even higher.

Elder abuse can be especially difficult to overcome. Even if recognized, finding a new and affordable place to live on a fixed income is rarely an easy task. When neglect and abuse is allowed to continue without intervention, both physical and emotional health can be negatively affected, requiring additional medical care that might not have been necessary otherwise.

All in all, nursing home neglect and elder abuse are both well-understood to raise the chances of both negative long-term health effects and death. Learning that a loved one was mistreated in a facility that was supposed to care for them can come as troubling news to families who might have chosen a nursing home in the hopes of finding a better standard of living for their family member. Nothing can ever truly undo the harm abuse and neglect aimed at an elder under the care of medical professionals, but California families still retain the right to seek justice through the civil court system. Personal injury or wrongful death claims filed on behalf of the victim can achieve compensation that is necessary to address the full breadth of damages suffered from the neglect.

Source: NPR, "10 Percent Of Older People Have Been Victims Of Abuse", Shefali Luthra, Nov. 11, 2015

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