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Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

nursing-home-abuse-statisticsNursing home abuse is a problem that affects many people and their families. Our personal injury lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, are legal advocates to nursing home residents harmed by caregivers' abuse and neglect.

Call our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

How Common is Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes?

National data reveals that 1% of Americans have experienced elder abuse or neglect by an institution caregiver at least once in their lifetime. As for what people experience while being abused,

  • 35% have been slapped or hit
  • 21% have had their personal belongings destroyed
  • 17% were sexually assaulted
  • 14% were physically restrained during the incident(s)

Most nursing home victims are women, with nearly 60%. The average age for these incidents typically happens at 81 years old, with the average length of stay being 6.5 years long.

Concerning Elder Abuse Statistics

The National Council on Aging states that between 1 and 5 million seniors suffer from elder abuse every year, but the exact number remains unclear as most accidents go unreported. Unfortunately, according to a World Health Organization study, only one out of 24 cases get reported to authorities.

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, more than 16,000 nursing centers and 1.67 million certified beds are in America. In addition, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services states that elder abuse is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.

According to the National Council on Aging, elder abuse costs more than $5 billion each year, but this isn't based on actual reports. The U.S Elder Abuse Incidence Study revealed 4–6% of older adults are victimized annually. This percentage amounts to 5-6 million seniors suffering from elder abuse.

Approximately 29% of nursing home staff in one Elder Abuse Incidence Study admitted to abusing an older adult, while 20% also stated they don't report it either. In addition, about 3 million seniors living in group homes and long-term care facilities receiving care at home also experience mistreatment, according to the National Elder Mistreatment Study by the Elder Justice Foundation.

The Elder Justice Foundation reports that about 1 in 10 older people experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation, with most abuses happening in the comfort of their own home at the hands of a caregiver! Older women are more likely to be abused or neglected than men, but most financial exploitation victims are male.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, neglect accounts for 14% of complaints against nursing homes. Negligence can be just as harmful — or deadly — as abuse. Family members should report cases immediately so loved ones stay safe.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that nearly one out of every ten elder abuse cases is neglect, representing 89% of all complaints filed with Adult Protective Services.

Abuse and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

CMS recognizes facility-acquired pressure sores as "never events," meaning that nearly every bedsore is preventable with proper skin care protocols. Elder neglect that goes unreported can cause problems like this for people living in nursing homes.

Nursing home staff members have access to established skin health management procedures that prevent incidents like this from happening. Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect can also lead to serious dehydration, malnutrition, or poor hygiene.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Nursing home residents with dementia are more at risk for mistreatment than those who do not have this condition.

Older adults who suffer from cognitive problems have limited communication skills, so they often don't report mistreatment. In addition, physically disabled older adults experience higher rates of delayed medical care or get less help than those without physical limitations.

What is Elder Abuse Among Nursing Home Residents?

Many people do not understand elder abuse or what it is, and the impact it causes on society's most vulnerable population. Elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm to an older adult.

Elder abuse may involve physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, exploitation, or neglect. Elder abuse is not only the actions of direct caregivers but also other people who have a relationship with them, such as adult children, relatives, or friends.

Elder abuse can occur in any setting where older people live, including nursing homes.

Nursing home residents who cannot care for themselves may be more likely to experience abuse or neglect because their abusers are typically someone they depend on for help. Older people are also more likely to be isolated from others, making them vulnerable to abuse by those entrusted with their care.

Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

The elderly may be susceptible to physical harm, which derives from overt actions perpetrated by a caregiver, such as kicking, choking, slapping, and pinching a nursing home resident. Older adults may not be able to properly defend themselves from a physical assault that makes them vulnerable.

Elderly adults have been known to have suffered from severe injuries or even death due to physical assault from those they depend on for living assistance.

Signs of Elder Physical Abuse

Elder abuse symptoms may include unexplained bruising, broken bones, malnutrition, and weight loss. In addition, older people who suffer from physical assault often have injuries that occur in various healing stages due to additional beatings.

Older adults often feel ashamed or embarrassed about their injuries and do not report that they were injured by a caregiver even if they are asked. As a result, elder physical abuse victims may be unable to reach out for help because of low self-esteem or fear of retaliation by their abuser.

Physical Abuse Statistics

The Elder Abuse Prevalence and Incidence Study - 2010 reported that 9% of nursing home residents had experienced physical abuse while residing in the facility. Additionally, it was found that this percentage is not from a single type of physical assault but a combination of different abuse types.

Elderly adults who experience physical abuse were more likely to have been injured in a fall. They were also 36 times more likely to have experienced the most severe level of physical abuse than those who did not experience any elder abuse or neglect.

Older people who were physically abused also had a higher mortality rate at 1.7 times the rate of those who did not experience any physical assault.

Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes

The Elder Abuse Prevalence and Incidence Study - 2010 reported that 9% of older home residents experienced psychological or emotional abuse while residing in the facility. Psychological or emotional mistreatment can seriously affect an older adult's physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Older adults who experience this form of mistreatment show symptoms such as social withdrawal, anxiety, and fear. Older adults who experience this type of abuse may also suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and panic attacks that can cause them to feel powerless or even suicidal.

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Nursing home residents may experience sexual abuse from a caregiver. In addition, elder sexual abuse is often unconsented and unwanted sexual contact between a nursing home resident and a caregiver.

Older adults who have been sexually abused often do not tell anyone due to embarrassment, retaliation fears from their abuser, or don't even realize that they have been victimized.

Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes

According to the National Ombudsman Reporting System, financial exploitation among senior home residents is a serious concern. In 2019, data revealed that more than 5 million Americans aged 65 and older experienced financial abuse in 2018. Some of the most common forms of financial elder abuse are:

  • Independent adult abuse: Elder adults who can choose their caretakers may experience "independent" or self-neglect abuse. Older people may experience this form of abuse by giving away their personal belongings, neglecting to pay bills, and not eating properly. In addition, seniors who suffer from low self-esteem or depression may choose to be financially abused because they feel as though no one will help them.
  • Financial exploitation: Elder adults often work with caretakers to keep track of their finances. Older adults who depend on others for all financial decisions are at risk of financial exploitation because they may not understand or even realize that they are financially abused. Those who suffer from memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer's diseases are especially vulnerable to this type of abuse.

Older adults may also be victims of financial exploitation from family members or friends because of emotional blackmail, lack of empathy towards the elderly, and the inability to see financial abuse. Seniors who suffer from memory loss are also victims because they may not remember being financially abused.

The Signs of Negligence in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes must meet a certain level of care and provide necessary services that keep their residents safe from injury or the possibility of abuse. Older adults who live in nursing homes have a right to receive skilled nursing, which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Injections
  • Dressing changes
  • Bedpans
  • Baths
  • Showering
  • Grooming
  • Bathing
  • Monitor vital signs and weight gain or loss

Older adults who live in nursing homes must also receive basic care that includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assistance with eating and drinking
  • Assistance with using the restroom
  • Assistance with mobility in and outside of the facility
  • Assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, using the restroom, bathing, and grooming

Nursing homes are responsible for their residents' safety which also includes adequate supervision. In addition, older adults who end up in a nursing home may have impaired mental or physical abilities that require close monitoring to prevent accidents or injuries that could result in death.

Older adults who have Alzheimer's disease or dementia are particularly vulnerable to accidents because they may not even realize that there is a danger. Seniors who have a history of falling should also be closely monitored because they could be seriously injured if left alone in a nursing home.

Nursing home neglect can happen due to lack of training, staff members, supervision, or facility policies.

Older adults who suffer injuries due to nursing home neglect are likely to end up in the emergency room with broken bones, burns, pressure sores, and infections. In addition, senior adults who live in nursing homes must be monitored regularly to change mental or physical conditions.

The Elder Justice Act

Congress passed the Elder Justice Act of 2009 to improve the standard of care for senior home residents.

The Elder Justice Act ensures that all older individuals can live in dignity and respect in their communities.

Elder abuse refers to any knowing, willing act committed by a caregiver or fiduciary that causes harm or risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Elder abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, financial exploitation, neglect, or abandonment.

The Act "aims to ensure that all older individuals can live in dignity and with respect in their communities." It also aims to promote better enforcement of elder abuse laws and more effective training for caregivers by increasing funding for prevention programs, research, and education.

The Act creates opportunities to protect better individuals subject to criminal offenses that result in serious bodily injury or death while residing in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

The Act also provides opportunities for very low-income individuals to achieve greater economic security through increased civil legal assistance, expansion of the Elder Abuse State Civil Laws, and the creation of an Elder Justice Community Corps.

The Elder Justice Community Corps is composed of Elder Justice AmeriCorps members who will provide education and outreach services to promote public awareness regarding issues related to Elder Justice.

The Elder Justice Act also provides Elder Abuse Prevention Training for Federal, state, local, and Indian tribal law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

Adult Protective Services Protecting Nursing Home Residents

CMS' Nurse Aide Registry (NAR) is responsible for disciplining caregivers found guilty of neglect or abuse. Today, there are over 100,000 names on the NAR list, which means more than one-third of nurses nationwide have had legal action taken against them for their neglectful behavior.

Elder abuse attorneys can provide free legal consultations to discuss filing a lawsuit using negligence as the main basis for those suffering from abuse or neglect.

Older people often suffer injuries such as broken bones (fractures), malnutrition, and dehydration, leading to hospitalization and serious health complications like pneumonia.

Teaching Elder Abuse Prevention Skills to Residents in Nursing Homes

Functional training in elder abuse avoidance can help older people recognize when something is wrong so they can ask for help before their condition worsens.

In addition, elder Abuse Prevention skills are intended to help people live more independently by teaching simple but effective self-care techniques, including getting assistance when needed.

Elderly care center residents who are taught elder abuse avoidance techniques will be able to do things for themselves without relying on others. Elder abuse prevention classes are offered by elder abuse attorneys who can teach abuse avoidance skills or refer them to an Elder Abuse Prevention Practitioner.

Protecting Nursing Home Patients

Older people should know that they have options for legal action against those who cause harm due to neglect. Nursing home abuse, especially in the cases of senior home residents, must come with heavy consequences.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Type

Injured victims of nursing home abuse are living in a hazardous environment. To protect those who cannot protect themselves, we need to educate the public about this hidden epidemic and provide them with the necessary resources to help these patients.

Statistics by type tell a story about what is going on at nursing homes around America – find out more below! 

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Ethnicity

Similar to family members, nursing home care professionals need to understand the importance of cultural sensitivity. The elderly are likely already feeling out of place in an unfamiliar environment, so speaking to them in a language that feels comfortable can help prevent irritation or frustration due to miscommunication.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Race

According to a 2010 study published by the Department of Health and Human Services, African-American nursing center residents are most likely to be abused. One out of every six African Americans that reside in nursing homes is either suffering or at risk for abuse.

Gender plays into this statistic, as well. For example, of the African Americans that are abused in nursing homes, roughly 70 percent of them are female. This percentage contrasts to Caucasian residents, 90 percent of whom are male in instances where abuse occurs.

The Department of Health and Human Services also notes a higher rate of reported suspected cases for Caucasian senior home residents than African Americans.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Gender

While more men than women experience abuse in nursing homes, women are twice as likely to die from it. For every man who dies due to suspected abuse, roughly two females die the same way.

Because women tend to be already bedridden and less mobile, it is likely easier for abusers to hurt them without being detected.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Age

The Department of Health and Human Services reports that the average age of nursing home residents is 80 years old. However, this statistic varies greatly depending on race.

For example, African Americans tend to be in their late 70s, Caucasians average between 82 and 86 years old, and Hispanics are around 86 years old on average when abused.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Income Status

Studies indicate that many elder home residents live below the poverty line—roughly 30 percent. However, this doesn't account for individuals with high income but have had to sell assets to pay for care.

This percentage is difficult to pinpoint but suggests that those who can't afford the costs of nursing home care could be more vulnerable to abuse.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics by Mental Health

The Department of Health and Human Services also reports that those individuals with certain mental health disorders are at a greater risk for abuse in skilled nursing facilities.

For example, individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia are more likely to be abused by trusted medical professionals who should be helping them, like nurses and assistants.

In addition, those that suffer from mental disorders like autism or depression are also at an increased risk of nursing home abuse. So, as you can see, there is a significant amount of nursing home abuse statistics for different types of people.

Statistics About Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

Nursing home elder abuse is a huge problem in the United States, especially affecting older adults. In 2010 alone, there were over 14,000 serious bodily injury cases from nursing home abuse and neglect by caregivers.

These injuries occurring from nursing home abuse included:

  • Bruises that cause substantial harm to a person's body
  • Fractures that occurred in places where they should not have
  • Developing pressure ulcers because of lack of attention
  • Other injuries considered to be serious at the hands of caregivers, other residents, and family members

Also, in 2010, there were 2,807 cases of negligent treatment or maltreatment, including being overmedicated or given the wrong medicine by way of negligence.

Although this is a large number of people, the actual number of nursing home abuse cases could be much higher than this. For example, reported nursing home abuse and neglect cases grew to over 11,000 in 2009.

Elder abuse most commonly occurs at home with a family member and in-home caregivers. Still, it can also happen within nursing homes or assisted living facilities with the staff and other residents.

The most common type of elder abuse is neglect, which happens because the person responsible for taking care of them just quit doing their job, not because they intended to cause harm.

But there are also instances where nursing home staff members, including certified nursing assistants, will purposely harm an elderly patient through physical assault, sexual mistreatment, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse.

In 2010, 2,076 physical or psychological mistreatment cases occurred in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Consequences of Elder & Nursing Home Abuse

Although there are people accused of nursing home abuse or neglect, most go without punishment. Only 1 in 14 cases is ever prosecuted - and less than 7 percent of those convicted will face jail time for their crime, which explains why only 14 percent of elderly victims report the abuse to some authority figure or a person who can help them.

And only 1 out of every 25 cases has an outcome favorable for the victim, like getting their nursing home rights restored, moving to a different facility, or even getting the person who hurt them in trouble with some authority.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect someone is being abused in a nursing home, it's important to report it immediately. If you report the abuse, there is a chance that something can be done to help them and prevent it from happening again in the future.

But many people are afraid of reporting nursing home abuse because they think they may have to take on some responsibility for their actions or fear retribution from those who committed the crime against the elder.

If you want to report the case but are afraid of what will happen, speak with a good nursing home abuse attorney. They can help keep you from being part of the prosecution and help protect your rights as a victim or a family member of a victim.

Don't Be a Statistic. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Protect the Safety of Your Loved One

The Nursing Home Law Center lawyers have a passion for helping others and a willingness to go up against big insurance companies to protect your rights. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight aggressively to get you full compensation for your injuries.

Don't wait; contact our affiliated lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free legal case review today!

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