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Do we really know enough about nursing home neglect and abuse?

When our Georgia readers hear about nursing home neglect and abuse, they probably envision situations where young and impatient members of nursing home staff are abusing or neglecting elderly residents of the assisted living facility. As it turns out, that may be correct in one respect -- the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that an estimated six out of seven residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are over the age of 65. But, even if that common assumption is correct, do we really know enough about nursing home neglect and abuse?

Many people may not know that over three million people are living in nursing homes right now in America, and nearly one million more reside in assisted living facilities. Two-thirds of these residents are female. In one survey of nearly 2,000 nursing home residents, a whopping 95 percent of those included in the survey reported that they had been neglected in some way by the nursing home staff, or that they had witnessed neglect of another resident. Forty-four percent reported that they had actually been abused.

If those statistics aren't troubling enough, another survey covered actual members of nursing home staff, and among those surveyed a staggering 50 percent self-reported that they had engaged in some type of mistreatment of elderly nursing home residents. A survey of certified nursing assistants -- who most people would consider bona fide "medical professionals" -- showed that 51 percent self-reported that they had at least yelled at an elderly nursing home resident.

There are many ways to describe the results of these surveys and statistics -- troubling, demeaning and frightening chief among them. But, Georgia residents who have seen an elderly family member suffer from nursing home abuse or neglect do not have to sit by idly. They may be able to pursue damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: ncea.aoa.gov, "Abuse of Residents of Long Term Care Facilities," Accessed Feb. 14, 2016

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