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Nursing home injury: a serious and often underreported problem

A good way to illustrate the concept of irony is when you become the victim of your own success. In Texas and most everywhere else in the United States, an illustration of how this can happen may be found in the increasing average age of our population. Put another way, modern advances in nutrition and health care mean that the average lifespan for an American can result in the realistic prospect that he or she lives well into their 80s.

But that measure of societal success, however, can have negative individual consequences.

One potentially difficult part of having a loved one living into old age can arise when that individual is no longer able to adequately care for his or her own needs and must be placed in an assisted living facility, or "nursing home." The emotional trauma of being uprooted from one's home and losing one's sense of independence can be serious. What can be dangerous or even deadly is when your elderly relative becomes subject to neglect or physical abuse at such a facility.

How serious the problem of elder abuse in nursing homes is can be hard to quantify with specificity, but some of the available data present disturbing indications:

  • One study suggests that more than 40% of nursing home residents have reported being abused, and that more than 90% have either been neglected or have seen someone else being neglected.
  • Another study indicates that even when state governments monitor licensed nursing home facilities, the majority of the time they fail to catch deficiencies as well as actual instances of nursing home injury.

The physical and emotional consequences to nursing home residents who are abused or neglected can be dire. Psychological distress and physical health problems are more common in such individuals, and worst of all they are three times more likely to die when compared to residents who have not been abused.

If you do suspect that abuse or neglect of a loved one in a nursing home is taking place, report it. Another resource to consider is consultation with a personal injury law firm to see if any civil legal remedies are available to you or your elderly relative.

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