As we have discussed here numerous times, Elder Abuse and Neglect is a widespread problem that appears to be getting worse over time. Statistics generally report that 1 in 10 seniors is a victim of elder abuse every single year. And while news reports will turn to the subject of elder abuse now and again, there is no strong indication that national trends on the rate of elder abuse are changing for the better. Here are five reasons why elder abuse appears to be on the rise in our society.
We Have an Aging Population
In 1995, the US Census Bureau predicted that the years between 2010 and 2030 would see an explosion of growth in the elderly population as baby boomers reach their senior years, and that is exactly what is happening now. With longer life expectancies, and an increase in divorced, widowed, and never-married seniors, more elderly people are entering nursing homes and assisted living facilities than ever before, making them more prone to abuse.
Public Resources for Preventing Elder Abuse are Underfunded
Every state in the nation has an office dedicated to monitoring elder abuse, but with over 15,000 nursing homes nationwide and 1.4 million residents (based on 2014 CDC statistics) – not to mention the many elderly people who live outside of nursing homes but are subject to elder abuse – there is only so much that public authorities can do with limited funding to prevent elder abuse from occurring.
Enforcement of Elder Abuse Laws is Less than Robust
Following from the previous point, even where public authorities are aware of elder abuse complaints, there is often little they are willing and/or able to do to prevent elder abuse. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly owned and operated by powerful corporate interests with lobbying power that can be flexed to limit government enforcement.
At the federal level, we have seen this recently with the news that the Trump administration quietly rolled back enforcement of elder abuse laws by limiting or minimizing fines levied on nursing homes where elder abuse occurs.
Nursing Homes Often Put Profits Over People
There are many great professionals and workers at nursing homes across the country that devote their lives toward taking care of the elderly and giving them the care they need. But all too often the corporate powers that operate these homes are primarily concerned with profits, and this can result in abuse and neglect when employees are not properly trained or screened, there are not adequate supplies and care, and reports of abuse are covered up to avoid liability. Most often, the cause is simply not enough employees to meet the needs of the residents.
Elder Abuse is Rarely Reported by Victims
Only about 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported, and that is often because elder abuse victims feel helpless to stop abuse and fear that their lives may only get worse by taking action. Thus, it often falls to family members and loved ones to notice the sign of elder abuse and take action to prevent it by working with an experienced legal professional. Too often the family discovers the scope of the neglect or mistreatment only after a loved one has died. At this point, the facilities rely on families to blame themselves in the hopes that some dangerous but misplaced sense of guilt or regret will stop a family member from holding the facility accountable. Remember, the facility has a job and the family member has a job. The facility must take great care of your loved one, keep a close on them through constant and careful assessments, and communicate with you and the doctor any potential problems. None of those things are your job.
Contact the Southern California Elder Abuse Attorneys at Johnson Moore Today
At Johnson Moore, we know full well that elder abuse victims and their families often face stonewalling, denial, and even intimidation when they try to take action against elder abuse. Our attorneys are compassionate and determined defenders of the elderly, and we will take the time to fully understand your concerns and assess what steps we can take on your behalf. Even if you are unsure of whether you have a valid claim, we look forward to hearing from you to help you explore your options for obtaining the justice you deserve. Contact Johnson Moore today to schedule a free consultation.