This article in the New Press, a fort Myers, Florida, newspaper caught my attention. The article by Janine Zeitlin, uses statistics to prove what many close to to the elderly already know- elder abuse and elder neglect is a dirty little secret. Most cases of elder abuse and elder neglect go unreported. When cases are discovered they are difficult to prove.
According to the article, the Florida Department of Children and Families found that adults make up about 18 percent of their abuse cases. The real extent of abused senior abuse may never be known. Unlike minors where the state may forcefully intervene in a potentially abusive situations, if elders refuse to get help there is little authorities can do.
Another complicating factor in learning the full extent to elder abuse is that many elderly don’t go to the doctors that often, and that might be the only time they’re out of their homes. Elders in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are similarly isolated from the general population. Rarely do nursing home residents venture into the community.
Even with obstacles in place authorities do what they can to discover situations involving elder abuse and neglect. The Department of Children and Families discovered a case of nursing home abuse and neglect involving a 90-year-old woman at Johnson Hall Home. Although the woman had a large infected sacral wound that had evolved, the facility did not provide her medical attention. The department also used its investigative resources to discover a case of neglect which lead to death involving a 95-year-old nursing home resident.
The above situations demonstrate the need to report nursing home abuse and neglect. If you suspect the mistreatment of a nursing home resident, you can contact your local department of public health and make a report. In most situations, the report may be done anonymously.