Nursing home abuse is a major problem affecting the elderly, and the consequences of abuse can be dire. Unfortunately, certain nursing home residents are at far greater of a risk of abuse than others. These nursing home patients are counting on visitors and even fellow residents to speak out and report abuse in case they cannot.
No one should be victimized by nursing home abuse, and those who see possible signs of issues should always speak up. By talking with an attorney or making a report to law enforcement, it is possible not only for victims to get justice for themselves if they are affected by abuse but also to make sure other vulnerable seniors are kept safe even if those seniors have no one looking out for them.
Review Journal recently took a close look at the problem of elder abuse, including interviewing a nurse who used to provide care and treatment to nursing home residents. The nurse reported on her experience and on things she saw in a nursing home, which still "haunt her to this day."
Unfortunately, one of the biggest things she saw was patients not getting any visitors. This is terribly common, with research showing as many as 60 percent of people who live in nursing homes don't get outside visitors. These seniors are more likely to suffer from depression if they do not have contact with the outside world, but the risks they face go beyond the psychological. Seniors who don't get visitors are at substantially greater risk of both abuse and neglect as compared with seniors who live in a nursing home setting but who still regularly see people from outside.
One of the reasons why seniors who don't get visitors are more likely to be abuse victims is because nursing home staff members know there is no one who is monitoring their care. When a patient has family coming in, family can see if something is wrong and will speak up if they don't think their relative is being treated right. Staff members are less likely to be neglectful of a patient who they know someone is watching, as compared with a patient who doesn't have visitors.
Family members can also speak up for seniors in a nursing home setting, and as Review Journal points out, it is the "squeaky wheel" which gets the attention. Research has shown the more vocal family and friends are about raising problems or concerns, the more care their loved one in a nursing home will receive.
Finally, if someone is not getting visitors, they may not have a safe person to report abuse or neglect to and there may be no one to notice signs of abuse like sudden unexplained weight loss or bruising. If no one watches for signs and the nursing home resident doesn't feel as if he or she has anyone to tell about the abuse, the abuse often goes unnoticed.