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Federal agency statistics on nursing home neglect

Ann Arbor residents have likely heard any number of the many stories that regularly circulate in the media about the effects of the aging Boomer Generation. The impact on Social Security as more age out of the work force, for example; the effect on health care costs as Boomers live longer and require more intensive care.

There is also another, much more disturbing phenomenon which we can expect to hear about as more and more elders move into nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That is nursing home neglect and abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' website provides some statistics which can help our Ann Arbor readers form a clearer picture of the problem.

In the year 2010, a study found that 7 percent of all complaints to ombudsmen about nursing homes and similar facilities were related to nursing home abuse, neglect or some form of exploitation. An earlier study asked 2,000 facility residents if they had ever experienced abuse or neglect, or seen a fellow resident suffer the same: nearly half (44 percent) reported experiencing abuse. And 95 percent had either suffered neglect or witnessed another individual being neglected.

Despite these significant findings, the problem is likely underreported. It can require specific training for a professional to be able to detect some kinds of neglect or abuse. Elderly victims may fear for their own safety if they speak up, or some may lack the ability to understand and communicate what is happening.

In the year 2008, the number of individuals living in nursing homes in this country stood at 3.2 million. With this population only growing for the foreseeable future, it's important that families with senior citizens in care facilities remain vigilant. If an issue is suspected, a legal professional can be a critical resource in protecting a loved one.

Source: National Center on Elder Abuse, "Statistics/Data," accessed on Dec. 19, 2015

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