Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect has become an epidemic in the United States in recent years. As of 2010, we had more than 40 million people over the age of 65 in this country—the highest number ever. It is estimated that as many as 10 percent of them have been abused in some way.
While many seniors are abused by their own family members, a growing number are facing abuse in nursing homes. There are several types of abuse, but the most harmful ones are physical abuse and neglect. These types of abuse can lead to serious injuries and even death.
Physical abuse can include beating, shoving, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking and use of restraints. These actions can lead to broken bones, head trauma, dislocations, internal bleeding and lacerations, all which can lead to death if not treated.
Neglect is also common in nursing homes. This includes malnutrition, dehydration, unsanitary living conditions, bedsores and dangerous living conditions. If a staff member doesn’t give residents required medications or mistreats a person in any way, this is also considered neglect. All of these can and have led to the wrongful death of nursing home residents.
NURSING HOME ABUSE IN MINNESOTA
Nursing home abuse has become commonplace in every state in the nation, including Minnesota. In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 complaints of elder abuse in nursing homes throughout the state. The complaints included physical abuse, serious injuries and neglect. More than 4,000 of these incidents involved altercations between residents, while more than 2,000 involved physical abuse by staff members. Of these, only 3 percent were investigated. This means that an overwhelming majority were ignored by the state.
On the occasions that the Minnesota Department of Health did investigate the cases, key steps were not taken. In many cases, the victim was not interviewed and police were not called.
The abuse is horrific. Residents are being punched, choked, fondled, smothered with pillows and forcibly restrained. This is horrible news for the 85,000 Minnesotans who live in state-licensed homes for seniors
Many people are forgoing traditional nursing homes and placing their loved ones in assisted-living centers. This is causing abuse to become more commonplace. The residents in assisted-living facilities are generally sicker and older. They tend to have more mental problems as well, which makes them more vulnerable to criminal abuse. On top of that, these facilities do not have as many restrictions, which means that they can understaff the facility and get away with abuse.
When nursing home abuse or neglect does occur, family members are kept in the dark. They are not made aware of abuse until their loved one is seriously injured or dies from abuse or neglect.