Updated February 20, 2020

How Common Is Nursing Home Abuse?

If you have discovered that your elderly loved one was abused in a nursing home or residential facility, you are probably scared and angry. Figuring out what to do when you suspect nursing home abuse and taking the necessary steps can seem overwhelming. However, you are not alone.

Nursing home and elder abuse is common in the United States, but statistical data is difficult to collect due to inconsistencies in definitions, reporting, and methodologies.

What are some Research Challenges?

The National Center on Elder Abuse describes research on nursing home and elder abuse as nearly two decades behind other similar fields (child, domestic, etc.). This severe lag is based on several challenges.

Inconsistent Methodologies

How researchers and agencies define both “elders” and “abuse” make a significant impact on the comparability of studies and conclusions. There is no consistent definition; instead, it changes across disciplines and geographical regions.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define older adults as those 60 years of age and older, while the Nursing Home Abuse Center uses 65 years as its starting point.

Additionally, victims of nursing home and elder abuse may experience multiple types of abuse simultaneously—a tragic reality. It is then difficult for researchers to measure and compare forms of abuse.

Various Ethical Dilemmas

The collection of information for studies of nursing home and elder abuse could have negative consequences to those who have mental, physical, or communication disabilities or issues. Confidentiality is also a problem with research of this type.

Lack of Governance

There is no federal agency governing nursing home and elder abuse research, leading to inconsistencies in definitions and responses to ethical concerns. Due to the lack of research on this subject overall, there is also the problem of educational institutions being unfamiliar with the subject, making the research approval process more time-consuming.

Inadequate Knowledge or Reluctance to Report

Symptoms of elder abuse can be unintentionally missed or deliberatively avoided by relatives, friends, or caregivers of those in nursing homes. Understaffing and poor training are likely responsible in part for this issue.

Many victims are, reasonably, reluctant to report elder abuse. They may be embarrassed or frightened, and they may have physical or cognitive disabilities that make reporting difficult. Although victims are never to blame, it can make collecting research complicated.

Why do Elder Abuse Statistics Vary Widely?

Due to these and other various research challenges, there is no consensus to how many people suffer from nursing home and elder abuse. There are, however, best estimates and samplings from several findings that share common conclusions:

  • Elder abuse is experienced by approximately 10% of people ages 60 and older
  • An estimated 1 to 2 million people over the age of 65 have been abused or exploited by a caregiver
  • Only 1 out of every 23 cases of elder abuse are reported
  • Elder abuse trends are on the rise

These statistics are drawn from the CDC, the National Center on Elder Abuse, and the Nursing Home Abuse Center and apply only to the United States.

Contact a Nursing Home and Elderly Abuse Attorney Today

If your elderly loved one is being abused, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help your family get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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