Nursing home abuse and neglect are serious problems in New York. While we know that rates of nursing home negligence are much higher than they should be, researchers suggest that elder abuse and neglect are vastly underreported. Indeed, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), studies show that about 10% of all adults aged 60 and older will suffer some type of nursing home abuse, with approximately five million seniors sustaining abuse on an annual basis, yet those numbers do not tell the whole story. The NCOA cites one study that says “only one in 24 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.” That number suggests that many more millions of older adults could sustain harm from elder abuse each year.
Why do so many cases of nursing home abuse go unreported? Our New York nursing home negligence lawyers want to discuss some of the most common reasons that abuse and neglect are not always reported. If you do have concerns about nursing home negligence, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you can to learn more about filing a claim against the facility.
Cognitive Problems and the Failure to Recognize Abuse
Many older adults who live in nursing homes are dealing with cognitive issues and may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. When an elderly nursing resident has dementia or other cognitive limitations, it may be difficult or impossible for that senior to even recognize that they are being abused or suffering from neglect, or to be able to report the abuse. It is critical in such scenarios for family members to be aware of the most common signs of abuse and neglect in order to ensure that particularly vulnerable nursing home residents do not sustain injuries as a result of long-term abuse or neglect.
Fears About Reprisals or Retaliation
When seniors in nursing homes suffer injuries—physical or psychological—from intentional acts of physical or emotional abuse, the senior may be worried about reprisals or retaliation for making a report. In other words, the older adult who is suffering from the abuse might fear that the abuse will only intensify if the staff member perpetrating the abuse learns about a report or investigation.
Families’ Failure to Understand Signs of Abuse
Many nursing home abuse and neglect reports are made by family members or friends who visit seniors in nursing homes. As the NCOA underscores, abuse and neglect can take many different forms, and those varying forms of abuse have a wide variety of signs and symptoms. As such, a family member might be aware of common signs of intentional physical abuse but might fail to recognize symptoms of emotional abuse or passive neglect. Indeed, family members might assume that an infection or bed sores are common in nursing homes and might fail to make a report when, in fact, serious infections and bed sores are frequent signs of negligence.
Seek Advice from a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in New York
If you are worried about an elderly loved one’s safety or need advice about filing an abuse lawsuit, one of the experienced New York nursing home negligence attorneys at our firm can begin working with you today. Contact Leitner Varughese, PLLC to learn more.