Senior citizens are the most rapidly growing demographic in the US today. By the year 2050, people who are 65 years or older will comprise over 20 percent of the US population. These staggering numbers prompted The New York State Senate to pass a package of 10 bills designed to protect senior citizens from various types of abuse. The legislation, which was passed in June, 2015, includes the creation of a statewide senior abuse reporting system and a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness.
What Are The Numbers In New York?
As the elderly population increases, elder abuse and other crimes against aging persons also increase. A study published by New York City Department of the Aging revealed that for every reported case of elder abuse, at least 24 more incidents go unreported. The most recent comprehensive report cites that of every 1000 seniors in New York, 76 have reported abuse.
Nursing homes and care facilities have an obligation, under the law, to protect and care for our loved ones. A form of abuse that is prevalent in nursing homes, but is discussed less frequently is abuse between the residents of the nursing home. A study conducted by Cornell University in 2014, used multiple data sources from over 2,000 New York nursing homes and reported that one in five nursing home residents had been involved in an altercation with another resident within the previous four weeks that could constitute abuse. Nursing homes are responsible for maintaining the safety of senior residents in their care and the failure to protect residents from other residents may constitute neglect.
New York State maintains an ongoing database, open to the public, containing findings of all nursing home inspections and investigations. The New York State Nursing Home Quality Initiative (NHQI) operates the database and conducts an annual evaluation and ranking of eligible Medicaid-certified nursing homes in New York State. The nursing homes are evaluated based on their performance in three key components:
The data collected implies that New York is experiencing a significant rise in nursing home abuse.
Nursing home abuse may come in many forms, including the following most prominent forms:
- Emotional Abuse: name calling, ignoring, threatening, isolating, or demeaning a resident in a way that may result in mental anguish or distress.
- Financial Abuse: illegally or unethically exploiting a resident of the nursing home through use of the senior’s cash, credit cards, funds or other assets without permission or by way of coerced permission. Financial abuse is considered the “silent” form of abuse and is the type of abuse that has been reported to be the most rapidly on the rise.
- Physical Abuse: slapping, bruising, coercing (including sexual coercion), cutting, forcibly restraining an older person or any other type of physical contact that may cause harm to the senior.
- Neglect: failing to carry out the responsibilities of caring for an elderly person or abandoning a dependent older person.
Nursing Home Abuse Prevention Strategies
The first step to ensuring that your loved one is being cared for by quality caregivers in a safe and comfortable nursing home is to conduct extensive research. Resources like Care.com provide reviews and detailed information about nursing home options. When visiting the nursing care facility, pay attention to other residents and use a checklist as a guide for asking questions.
Once you have selected a nursing home and your loved one is settled in, check back frequently with the management. Even frequent phone calls will raise awareness with management and staff to the fact that you are paying attention to the care of your loved one.
Should you suspect that your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, it is best to contact a professional who will assist you with the process of reporting abuse and protecting your loved on.