The National Center on Elder Abuse classifies elder mistreatment in six main ways: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect and abandonment. According to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, almost 5 million Americans, including elders in Alabama, may be the victims of one or more of these forms of abuse. Victims of elder abuse and malnutrition usually have some form of either physical or mental disability and are usually over 75 years of age.
Alabama residents might be hesitant to enter nursing homes after hearing that the New York Times highlighted the occurrence of elder abuse in America. The Elder Maltreatment Alliance reported that in 2011, three to five million elderly people were victims of some sort of abuse, whether it was physical abuse or exploitation.
Alabama residents with loved ones in elder care facilities may want to re-evaluate the quality of care provided by those facilities. The recent case of a South Carolina man's mother highlights how nursing home neglect and neglect are more rampant than one might think in the elder care industry. On May 7, 2012, after attempting to research clean and safe nursing homes, the man admitted his 90-year-old mother into a local home. The man had spent years taking care of his mother at home before concluding that he would no longer be able to continue providing in-home assistance. The decision to admit her was one of the hardest he has ever made, the man told local press. The decision is also one that the man regrets as his was found dead approximately six months after she entered the home.
Family members of Alabama nursing home residents are often concerned that their relatives may be victims of abuse or neglect. Seeing cases such as the recently decided nursing home neglect lawsuit that resulted in a $91.5 million verdict only heightens these fears. The case is currently headed to the West Virginia Supreme Court for review.The case was filed by a son who alleged that a nursing home failed to provide the requisite standard of care to his mother, who apparently died of dehydration in 2010. The nursing home denied his claim, stating this his 87-year-old mother died of dementia after being transferred to a hospice care facility 18 days before her death. However, the jury agreed with the plaintiff, awarding him $91.5 million in damages and holding the home responsible for medical negligence as well as violations of the Nursing Home Act.
In the United States, an estimated 1.5 million individuals currently reside in nursing homes. Many nursing home residents are elderly individuals who suffer from a variety of physical and mental ailments. Today, roughly 70 percent of these nursing home facilities are for-profit businesses, a fact that many contend is a major contributing factor to a rise in cases of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Although we'd like to think that our loved ones are safe in nursing homes, the fact of the matter is that this isn't always the case. It's when we hear cases of serious injuries or, in the worst of cases, someone dies, that we realize that negligence such as this will continue to happen if the guilty parties are not held responsible for their actions.
A 94-year-old woman remembered for her deep devotion to her church, friends and family died recently when the wheelchair in which she was sitting rolled down a hill. The accident which occurred outside of a nursing home where the woman was a resident is currently under investigation and has raised questions related to nursing home neglect and negligence.
Nursing homes are an integral part of our healthcare system in Alabama and the rest of the country. When we place loved ones in the care of these facilities, we rightly expect that they will be getting the best care possible, free of risks from malnutrition, infections or physical assaults.