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Nursing home and elder abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Offenders can be members of nursing staff members, medical professionals, administrators, supports staff, other residents, and various third parties associated with the elderly care facility.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), up to five million older Americans are abused yearly. And Ohio nursing homes and assisted living facilities are no exception.
U.S. Census data suggests that more than 200,000 Ohioans aged 60 and older experience some form of elder abuse. But the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) only received 34,000 calls in 2020. This suggests that tens of thousands of abuse cases went unreported.
The most recent Ohio statistics show a 12% rise in exploitation reports and an 8% increase in abuse and neglect cases. This growing trend is a serious concern, given that by 2030, more than 25% of Ohio’s population will be 60 and older.
More specifically, the independent and nonprofit news provider ProPublica indicates that of Ohio’s 950 registered nursing homes, 223 had serious deficiencies.
Ohio’s Adult Protective Services (APS) serves Ohioans aged 60 or over who live in their own homes and communities. APS will investigate reports of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and partner with appropriate agencies to address the situation. Ohio also operates various area agencies on aging to coordinate local services and support for older adults and people with disabilities.
Call the toll-free state APS hotline at 1-855-OHIO-APS (1-855-644-6277). There’s no requirement for physical proof, and callers can choose to be anonymous.
To report suspected abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility or by the staff of a home care agency, call the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-282-1206.
The most common signs of nursing home mistreatment include the following:
Bed sores result from unrelieved pressure on an older adult’s skin. Left untreated, they can lead to infections and other serious complications.
If your senior isn’t acting like themselves and suddenly seems fearful or agitated, nursing home abuse may be present.
Financial abuse is common in nursing homes. Your loved one may be a victim of financial abuse if you notice unexplained withdrawals, unusual purchases, or missing cash from their room.
If your senior is frequently unbathed or wearing dirty clothing, the nursing home may be understaffed and unable to provide the proper care they deserve.
Nursing homes must provide residents with a clean and safe environment. Unsanitary living conditions, such as dirty bedding and living spaces, may indicate nursing home abuse.
The nursing home must ensure its residents are properly fed and well-hydrated. Sudden weight loss, dry mouth, weakness and fatigue, tongue swelling, and cracked lips are all signs that your senior may be malnourished and dehydrated.
If your older loved one displays any signs of nursing home abuse, question the nursing home staff and management. Also, speak to your senior privately and get their perspective.
As a society, there is much we can do to improve the nursing home abuse statistics like those noted above. First, we can look for abuse or neglect among our loved ones. Second, we can encourage our elderly loved ones to speak up if they suffer abuse or exploitation. Lastly, we can encourage legislators to pass new laws to protect our growing elderly population.
When the nursing home staff and management cannot explain the situation and your older loved one says things that make you suspect abuse, consult an attorney immediately. You and your loved one have legal rights and options to explore.
At KNR, our Ohio nursing home abuse lawyers can help you assess the matter, guide your steps in protecting your loved one, and determine who should be held accountable. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free, confidential, and no-obligation legal consultation.