Who Is at Greatest Risk of Nursing Home Abuse?
There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, housing several million elderly and infirm residents. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse--including physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as financial exploitation and neglect--is a reality in many of these facilities. One of the best ways to reduce and prevent nursing home abuse: Know who's at greatest risk of becoming a victim of abuse, then carefully monitor them for signs of potential abuse.
Risk Factors in Nursing Home Abuse
As a person's physical and/or mental capacities become diminished, the likelihood increases that they may become victim of nursing home abuse. Specifically, a nursing home resident may have a greater chance of being abused if the resident:
- Has dementia
- Is unable to communicate
- Is socially isolated
- Receives few or infrequent visitors and phone calls from the outside world
- Has a tendency to become verbally or physically abusive toward others
- Spends the majority of his or her time with one caretaker
- Has undiagnosed medical issues
A caretaker may have an increased likelihood of becoming abusive if the caretaker:
- Has inadequate training to perform the job
- Feels overworked
- Is depressed
- Is addicted to drugs or alcohol
- Works in a facility where there are a limited number of staff caring for residents
- Works in a facility that doesn't have a strong abuse prevention policy
- Works in in a facility that has a high rate of staff turnover, increasing the likelihood that new hires will be inadequately screened
By recognizing the risk factors that contribute to nursing home abuse, family and friends can be more alert and better able recognize the signs of potential abuse.
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