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Disabled adults are among those most prone to nursing home abuse

The number of baby boomer Americans joining the ranks of the retired increases every year; many of them live here in Illinois. However, because of technological advancements and improvements in health care, many boomers are living longer. As this elderly population grows, so will the demand for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Illinois residents, like other Americans, help their loved ones move into nursing homes when the children can no longer take care of their parents, including those with disabilities. Relatives often believe these facilities can better administer medication and monitor the overall well-being of their elderly loved ones.

An estimated 14 million Americans age 65 and older have disabilities. They are sometimes abused by the staff at assisted living facilities. Data shows that institutionalized elderly women with disabilities are more likely to become victims of abuse compared to elderly women in institutions without disabilities. When it comes to lifetime abuse, 67 percent of surveyed elderly women experienced physical abuse, and 53 percent were victims of sexual abuse by a variety of perpetrators. Disabled elderly men also suffer various types of abuse in rates similar to those of their female counterparts. Of particular concern is the nearly 50 percent of elderly with dementia who are abused each year.

People with disabilities are often more prone to abuse because they have no way to report the abuse. Some also choose not to report incidents of abuse out of fear of retaliation from their care assistants.

People who believe their elderly relatives are suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse should first speak with them to confirm their suspicions. Once relatives' suspicions are validated, they can proceed to gather substantial evidence against the perpetrators. The last step is filing a claim against the nursing home facility and the staff members who abused the victims.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services, " Statistics/data," accessed on Oct. 20, 2014

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