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Personal Injury Law Blog | Elder Law Blog | Los Angeles Elderly Abuse

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 age 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 treatment such as 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 physical abuse of residents. So this involves pushing, shoving, pinching, grabbing or unnecessary restraint of residents.


Theft by Caretakers

This was an in-depth study, including over 1300 nurses and healthcare assistants from 64 nursing homes. The data from the research showed that physical and mental abuse was not the only crimes. There is also the fact that 1.2 percent of staff members have been seen by other employees taking valuables from residents.


Gullibility of Seniors

Many a nursing abuse law firm has argued in court that elders are susceptible to being scammed. At least one recent study that was conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, supports this argument. It focused on the brain of the elderly and found significant differences in the significant areas, compared to those in the study who were younger.

  • The study used participants from a senior living center between the ages of 55 and 84, and then 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 the brain of both groups.

  • The younger participants were able to quickly identify the people in the photos who should not be trusted
  • 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 part of the brain known as the anterior insula in older participants lacked activity, wherein 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 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 occurs 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 director of nursing at the now defunct El Dorado Care Center.

This now-closed location is where the abuse is alleged to have occurred. When the resident was taken to the hospital, the ER documented injuries, other than the reason for being admitted to the hospital, which included bruises and a wound on her 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 husband of the elder abuse victim, 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 cases of nursing home abuse, 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.

Obviously, 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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Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

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Los Angeles, CA 90071

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