According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 80,000 Pennsylvanians reside in 700 nursing homes throughout the state. The Department of Health conducts annual inspections of nursing homes to make sure that nursing homes are complying with federal and state regulations and to be sure that residents feel “at home” in their facilities. The state of Pennsylvania ranks 4th highest in the country for the percentage of its population over the age of 85 which means that a large percentage of Pennsylvania’s population requires full time nursing home care.
Nursing home abuse attorneys know that the decision to put a loved one in a nursing home can be very difficult and emotional, but discovering that a loved one has suffered nursing home abuse is even more difficult and emotional. Nursing home residents are extremely vulnerable and abuse can go on for a long time until it is finally discovered and not only that, a large number of nursing home abuse cases go unreported.
Types of abuse and resulting injuries
Nursing home abuse can occur in a number of ways. Types of abuse that residents may suffer include physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect. As a result of nursing home abuse, common injuries include the following:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Physical injuries such as bruising, traumatic brain injuries, and broken bones
- Emotional trauma
- Injuries due to poor medical care
Types of facilities
Nursing home abuse is common because residents are dependent on their caregivers and residents often have nowhere to turn to escape the abuse. Unfortunately, abuse is common at other types of dependent care facilities as well including adult daycares, child daycares, and long term care facilities for people who are dependent due to permanent physical impairment, emotional disabilities, and mental handicaps.
Reasons abuse goes unreported
Cases of abuse frequently go unreported for several reasons including those listed below.
- People who are afraid of the consequences of reporting abuse, especially if they do not have a support system outside of their living facility.
- People who do not have the capacity to know they are being abused. This may include the elderly with limited mental faculties, mentally handicapped, people in a vegetative state, and young children.
- People who are unable to report the abuse because they lack the necessary communication skills. For example young children who are not old enough to talk or elderly who have the mental capacity to recognize the abuse, but have limited communication skills.