Report ranks states on risk of nursing home abuse and neglect

Alabama residents with elder family members in the care of nursing homes may be pleased to find that their state was not on the list of worst states for nursing care, according to a report by the nonprofit Families for Better Care. However, even the states receiving the highest marks have featured cases of nursing home neglect and neglect. With an expected rise of 40 percent in the nationwide total of nursing home residents over the next ten years, advocates say vigilance on the part of state regulators, care providers and families is critical.

The total number of residents is currently estimated at 1.5 million. This elderly population and their families experience a quality of care that varies greatly between states and even between individual facilities in a single state. Advocacy research found that a primary factor in quality of care is the experience of caregivers and the number of qualified staff.

Some families have had to take matters into their own hands to hold facilities accountable for failing to meet a reasonable standard of care. In one instance, a 97-year-old woman suffering from dementia reportedly had strange bruises. The family suspected nursing home abuse, but they were told the bruises happened during falls. They collected evidence of abuse by placing a hidden camera in the woman's room.

Abuse is a severe possibility with a facility that fails to properly examine potential caregivers and has a shortage of staff. Other potential outcomes, such as bedsores, malnutrition and medication error, are typically less dramatic in the short term, but they may likewise cause damage to elderly loved ones. A personal injury attorney may be able to help family members end neglect or abuse and recover compensation by documenting evidence and pursuing a civil lawsuit.

Source: CBS News, "Eleven states get failing grades for nursing home care", Manuel Bojorquez, August 09, 2013

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