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Recognizing and addressing nursing home neglect

Many Georgia individuals have parents or family members who require constant care due to age or medical conditions. While it is sometimes possible for people to care for their family members in their own homes, many conditions require the medical resources of a nursing home. Unfortunately, nursing home residents may suffer from injuries or illnesses due to neglect. It is important for residents and their family members to recognize the signs of neglect so they may take action to remedy dangerous situations.

Whether it occurs in a person's own home or in an institutional setting such as a nursing home, neglect is a form of elder abuse. According to the World Health Organization, a 2017 study found that approximately 15.7% of people over 60 years old experienced abuse in the past year. Within that group, nearly 12% of reports from nursing home residents and their proxies related to neglect. In many cases, staff members were the perpetrators of elder abuse.

The National Center on Elder Abuse provides numerous resources for victims and family members, including information on recognizing abuse and neglect. According to the NCEA, neglect occurs when a responsible party fails to provide an elder in his or her care with life necessities: clothing, medicine, food, water, hygiene, comfort and safety. There are several symptoms and signs that may indicate this type of abuse. Neglect may result in bedsores, lack of adequate hygiene, malnutrition or dehydration. Untreated health concerns may also indicate neglect. Other signs of neglect relate to the living conditions, such as inadequate heating, soiled bedding, lack of running water or insufficient clothing.

While elder abuse is sadly a growing issue, there are resources for victims and their family members. Individuals may help combat the problem by actively looking for warning signs of neglect and reporting issues to the proper authorities in a timely manner.

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