The growing problem of Elder abuse and neglect is one that needs to be addressed head on. According to a CDC study released in 2014, almost 67,000 regulated long-term care providers serve about 9 million people in the United States. 60% of these nursing home providers are for profit, and a majority are chain-affiliated. The National Center on Aging reports that by 2050 people aged 65 or older will make up 20% of the population. It is estimated that nearly 20 million of these people will be aged 85 or older.
An alarming problem in nursing homes are falls. A CDC report states that an estimated 50 to 75% of nursing home residents experience a fall each year, more than twice the rate of Elder adults who live in the community. According to a CDC report, nearly 1800 Elders who live in nursing homes die from falls each year. Some of the causes include: poor lighting, wet floors, improperly maintained wheelchairs, and improper bed height. All of these causes can be prevented by going back to our society’s bedrock principles of accountability and responsibility.
The result of this abuse and neglect is probably the most unnerving thing. A study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Elder Self Neglect: Medical Emergency or Extreme Vulnerability revealed that Elders who had been abused had a 300% higher risk of death. This presents a huge social issue that must be addressed in order to reduce this horrific number. If something is not done to address this issue, it will continue to increase as the population increases, resulting in a catastrophic loss.
The for profit companies who operate these nursing homes need to take initiative from an operational standpoint. The need is a better organized plan implemented at all levels. There is a must for checks and balances. From an operational standpoint, better screening of employees would be a start. It is imperative that nursing home employees understand the magnitude of the tasks involved in the care of the Elderly. When mistakes are made, there must be repercussions.
According to the medicare.gov website, there are 188 nursing homes in South Carolina. With the influx of growth to our state, the number will continue to rise to reflect the projections of the CDC. With a higher number of Elders entering in these facilities, the chance for abuse and injuries will continue to rise unless serious measures are put into place. We as a society have a duty to provide proper care for our Elders.