Posted on Elder Abuse Blog / Blog / Growing Abuse by Nursing Homes

The Growing Problem of Nursing Home Abuse

Elder abuse senior woman being shouted at by nurse
Elder abuse concept with a senior woman in a wheelchair crying and covering her ears as a middle-aged nurse or other health care worker is yelling at her.

Nursing home abuse is a growing problem. To illustrate this, at least two recent studies show how prevalent this treatment of elderly adults is. Nursing home abuse is an increasing problem.

One of the studies included both elderly citizens and nursing home staff. Even some nursing home staff members had seen elderly abuse by other staff members. Attorneys help even the odds in all cases, and sometimes that is the only thing that exposes the harm to the court and regulatory systems.

What Are Some Recent Case Studies?

The National Center for the Protection of Older People at the University College Dublin found in their research that over one in four employees had witnessed psychological abuse. This kind of ill-treatment includes shouting, swearing, or insulting the elderly resident at a nursing home.

And this is heinous enough, but to make elderly nursing home abuse even worse, one in eight employees had witnessed residents’ physical abuse. So this involves pushing, shoving, pinching, grabbing, or unnecessary restraint of residents.

Theft By Caretakers

This study was in-depth, covering over 1300 nurses and healthcare assistants from 64 nursing homes. The study’s research data showed physical and mental abuse was not the only crime. Also, 1.2% of staff members were seen by other employees stealing resident’s valuables.

Gullibility Of Seniors

Many nursing abuse law firms argued in court that elders are susceptible to being scammed. At least one recent study that the University of California conducted, Los Angeles, supports this argument. It focused on the brain of the elderly and found significant differences in the critical areas compared to younger patients.

  • The study used participants from a senior living center between 55 and 84; they used staff members and students between the ages of 20 and 42.

They found that when showing the two groups a series of photographs, with individuals who appeared trustworthy and others with a shifty appearance, there was a tremendous difference in reactions in both groups’ brains.

  • The younger participants were able to quickly identify the people in the photos who they should not trust.
  • The elderly group of members did not have the same gut reaction.

“Gut Reaction” Response Seems to Disappear in Elder Brains

Further, testing using an MRI showed that the brain’s part known as the anterior insula in older participants lacked activity. For the younger participants, there was a flurry of activity.

  • The anterior insula is the part of the brain that “gut reactions” come from.

So this makes you feel ill-at-ease or stressed, to pick up behaviors, and helps you in making difficult decisions.

  • This lack of anterior insula activity, researchers determined, makes it difficult for the elderly citizen to recognize the appearance and behavior signals of being scammed.

This gullibility puts them at risk that can:

  • Cost them their life savings
  • Bring them in physical danger.

These are only two of the recent studies concerning nursing home abuse. They show possible reasons that nursing home abuse and scamming of elders occur so often. Some abusers know no empathy.

What are Some Recent Cases of Abuse?

Recently, two nurses were held responsible for felony elder abuse of a nursing home resident who succumbed to the lack of proper care. One of the staff involved was a registered nurse and nursing director at the now-defunct El Dorado Care Center.

This now-closed location is where the alleged abuse occurred. When the resident was hospitalized, the ER documented injuries other than hospital admissions reported, including bruises and her wounded pinky finger.

The nursing home owner, Horizon West Healthcare Inc., when held accountable, settled the claim for:

  • $3 million
  • Sold 27 nursing homes it owned

In civil court, the elder abuse victim’s husband, as a part of his lawsuit, claimed the nursing home was understaffed to maximize profits.

What About The Unreported Abuse?

These nursing home employees were held accountable in the above cases. However, there are thousands of nursing home abuse cases, with what is believed to be approximately half or more never reported to authorities. This silence is because, in most cases, the nursing home resident feels defenseless.

They do not believe they have an avenue to stop the mistreatment, so they live in fear of the abuse. And this is what the nursing home staff member, who won’t give proper care, counts on. Often the elder abuse only comes to light because of the family members who recognize the signs!

So they are forced to go to the authorities and perhaps an elder abuse lawyer. But what about the elder who has no immediate family or friends to raise the alarm? What do they do? Where is the oversight? Lobbying Sacramento is one way to help reel in the mistreatment. But civility and empathy are the only way to end harm to our seniors.

There is a lot to this. Of course, there are many excellent care providers. But all it takes is one weak link in the chain, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Be forever vigilant about the abuse of seniors. An elderly law abuse attorney can help even some of the odds, as noted above. If you need help with an elderly abuse law question, use our online contact form, or call Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC at (213) 596-9642.

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Michael P. Ehline Esq.
Downtown Los Angeles Corporate Offices

Downtown Los Angeles Office
633 West 5th Street #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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633 West 5th Street #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071
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