As the population ages, the number of people residing in nursing homes continues to increase. Unfortunately, with the rise in numbers, there has also been a rise in reports of neglect and abuse in these facilities. Neglect in nursing homes can have a devastating effect on the health and well-being of residents, as well as their families. Families may feel a lot of guilt when they learn of neglect and could be faced with a lot of stress when having to find legal representation for broken hips in nursing homes, medication errors, sepsis, and other issues that stem from neglect. While the neglect in nursing homes is felt most by residents and their families, the repercussions extend beyond these facilities.
The Cost of Elder Neglect for Residents
Neglect can take many forms and can have a staggering impact on residents. The most common forms of neglect include physical, emotional, and financial neglect.
Physical neglect can include failing to provide residents with adequate food, water, and medical care. This kind of neglect can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, infections, bedsores, and other serious health problems. If these health problems are further neglected, they could become more severe and might lead to the death of a resident. Neglect can also lead to serious injuries and death in cases of accidents like falls or choking since supervision is what tends to be most effective in preventing these types of accidents.
Emotional neglect can involve ignoring residents’ social and emotional needs, leaving them isolated and alone for hours or days at a time, and only tending to their basic care needs. Senior citizens need consistent social and mental stimulation, or their mental well-being will deteriorate at a much faster rate. While residents suffering from neglect are likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, these conditions are much more likely with emotional neglect, since emotional neglect has such a strong impact on mental health.
Financial neglect occurs when assisted living facilities or the employees within them take advantage of the vulnerable state that residents are in to either steal from them or exploit them for financial gain. This kind of neglect often strips senior citizens of their autonomy, tricking them into doing things they would not otherwise agree to and leaving them in a state of financial ruin.
The Cost of Neglect for Families
Neglect in nursing homes can also have a significant impact on families. Families who entrust their loved ones to nursing homes expect them to be treated with dignity and respect. When neglect occurs, families may feel betrayed and helpless. As a direct result of this neglect, families may also experience a literal cost, since they could find themselves paying for hospitalizations and other medical expenses for their loved ones. Additionally, families may be faced with the cost of hiring legal representation to hold nursing homes accountable for neglectful care.
The Cost of Neglect for Society
Neglect in nursing homes is not only a problem for individuals and their families; it also has a wider impact on society.
The Impact on the Healthcare System
Neglect can strain the healthcare system, leading to increased healthcare costs. Neglected residents may require more hospitalizations, which can be costly for both the individual and the healthcare system as a whole.
The Impact on the Legal System
Neglect in nursing homes can also lead to legal and regulatory costs. When nursing homes are found to be neglectful, they may face fines, lawsuits, and other legal expenses. Additionally, regulatory agencies may need to spend more resources monitoring and investigating nursing homes to ensure they are providing adequate care.
Preventing Neglect in Nursing Homes
The best way to reduce the cost of neglect in nursing homes is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Providing Quality Care
Nursing homes must be held accountable for providing high-quality care to residents. This includes ensuring residents receive adequate food, water, medical care, and social and emotional support.
To prevent neglect, nursing homes must also have adequate staffing levels. Understaffing can lead to neglect, as staff members may not have enough time to provide individualized care to residents. Additionally, nursing homes must provide ongoing training to staff members to ensure they are equipped to provide high-quality care.
Advocating for Residents
Families can also play a role in preventing neglect by being vigilant and advocating for their loved ones. Families should regularly visit their loved ones in nursing homes and speak up if they have concerns about their care. Additionally, families should educate themselves about the signs of neglect and abuse, so they can recognize when it is occurring.