Today, June 15, is the 5th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Sponsored by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), the first Awareness Day in 2006 involved several hundred organizations and governmental bodies throughout the world, on all seven continents. Their core message is this: Never ignore elder abuse.
Throughout the world, abuse and neglect of older persons is largely under-recognized. It is an unspoken problem. Unfortunately, no community or country in the world is immune from this costly public health and human rights crisis.
Elder Abuse Facts
According to the World Health Organization, the elderly are especially at risk of abuse in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other long- term care facilities. In a survey in the United States, for example, 36% of nursing home staff reported having witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year, 10% admitted having committed at least one act of physical abuse themselves, and 40% said that they had psychologically abused patients.
Abusive acts include physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity and choice over daily affairs, and providing insufficient care (for example, allowing them to develop pressure sores).
Signs and symptoms of abuse include:
- delays between injuries or illness and seeking medical attention;
- implausible or vague explanations for injuries or ill-health, from either patient or caregiver;
- differing injury accounts or case histories from patient and caregiver;
- frequent visits to emergency departments because a chronic condition has worsened, despite a care plan;
- laboratory findings that are inconsistent with reported treatment.
The HensonFuerst nursing home abuse team has seen first-hand the abuses that can be heaped on the elderly. Just a few months ago, six residents of the Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home were given overdoses of morphine, and one resident died. They were all in the Alzheimer’s unit, which means that they were helpless to know what was going on… helpless to fight back.
Stories like that are what keep HensonFuerst fighting against elder abuse every day of the year.