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Why does elder abuse happen in nursing homes?

Older Americans who are in nursing homes are placed in a precarious position. These elderly people have usually lived very full lives. They are usually accustomed to staying very active. Many of them were independent until the day they moved into the nursing home. Now, all of a sudden, they are depending on others for care. They might feel like they are burdens. That is bad enough on its own, but when they are subjected to abusive and neglectful behavior from the nursing home caregivers, the situation is much worse.

Why does elder abuse happen in nursing homes?

Elder abuse happens in nursing homes for a variety of reasons. These reasons range from a caregiver being stressed out to the shifts being understaffed. In some cases, frustration or a desire to harm someone leads to the elder abuse. In all of these cases, the cause of the elder abuse is a concern because it provides a key to determining how elder abuse can be avoided in the future. That doesn't mean that elder abuse is ever permissible because it isn't.

Are there ways to prevent elder abuse?

Determining how to prevent elder abuse means looking into the root cause. Once the cause is determined, it can be addressed. For example, if stress is what led to the abuse, counseling might be the solution. If understaffing is the cause, ensuring shifts are adequately staffed can prevent the problems.

The only way that elder abuse can be addressed is for people to make reports about it when it happens. Some estimates note that for every report made, 23 other instances aren't reported. If you were harmed by nursing home abuse, learn your options for taking action.

Source: American Psychological Association, "Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions," accessed Aug. 11, 2016

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