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Elder abuse in nursing homes is a serious problem

Taking care of elderly relatives can be challenging for Illinois families. Many families turn to nursing homes when they can no longer care for older relatives because of care needs, work requirements and other conflicts. Nursing home and care facility staff workers are expected to provide high-quality care of their elderly residents and patients, but unfortunately reports of elder abuse are increasing as members of the baby boom generation age into retirement and their final years.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. This means that the number of senior citizens continues to increase and so does the demand for nursing homes. Unfortunately, an estimated 5 million older Americans end up being exploited, abused or neglected. Some of that abuse happens in nursing homes. Many elderly residents have suffered from physical and emotional abuse while inside these facilities. Some residents have experienced abuse from other residents and from staff members. There are also reports of medication abuse with residents who are sick or disabled.

The risk of nursing home neglect can be reduced if relatives of residents are vigilant and frequently check on the conditions of the facilities and the health of their loved ones. Any sign of maltreatment should be immediately reported to nursing home staff and administrators so they can assess the situation, evaluate the extent of the problem and prevent the abuse. If the complaint is not immediately and satisfactorily resolved, a family should not hesitate to contact state or local authorities.

In the event that a resident suffers injuries due to neglect or abuse, the family can take legal action against the facility and its staff. If there appear to be criminal actions, then the family should contact police. The family can also seek compensation for any losses incurred as a result of the neglect.

Source: Missoulian.com, "Elder abuse a growing concern," Michael Hagenlock, July 3, 2014

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