Nursing home abuse and neglect remains a mostly hidden problem in our area. While most caregivers at these facilities work hard to provide the best services possible to those who depend on them, there are always some who feel comfortable cutting corners, providing substandard supervision, and creating a culture where mistreatment permeates.
The problem is compounded by the fact that many of the largest nursing home chains prioritize maximization of their own profits over ensuring that every resident in their facility receives the best care possible. For example, the profit-motive often leads to staffing shortages. The shortages in turn mean that there are often not enough caregivers to go around. Nursing home neglect often results.
Elder abuse is not confined to the nursing home, however. It exits everywhere--at the senior's own home, elder living communities, nursing homes, and everywhere in between. Study after study continues to pour out revealing that this abuse is reaching epidemic proportions.
At times the abuse is perpetrated intentionally by those with dubious motives. This is the case when a caregiver takes out their own frustration by physically striking a senior or when the caregiver steals money from the unsuspecting elder. At other times the mistreatment is not intentional but caused by passive neglect.
For example, leaving a senior alone in the restroom for too long without help or failing to double-check the correct medication dose are forms of neglect that can lead to substantial harm. While the motives of the caregiver in those cases are not inherently suspect, the harm to the senior is often the same as if the mistreatment was intentional. That is why it remains important for senior care advocates to guard against both intentional abuse and passive neglect.
Caregiver burnout is often cited as one of the main causes of neglect. As in all contexts, when one is overworked, the chance of shortcuts and costly mistakes rise. One local organization, Hopewell Care, recognizes the role the burnout plays in improper senior caregiving. That is why the group announced this week that they were rolling out a wider variety of services in Panama City to those caregivers who are caring for elder friends and family members.
The group noted that many caregivers seem to hit a wall after the holidays, with the risk of burnout at a peak. It is easy to get overwhelmed while helping vulnerable seniors who are often facing a range of problems including dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and other ailments. Interested caregivers can visit the group's elder caregiving website to learn more about finding a certified at-home aide or to download guides like "Care Giving 101," "Parkinson's Disease Gait Training," and similar resources.
We appreciate the challenges faced by seniors and their families as they search for quality affordable long-term care. For many, the right choice is utilizing at-home services like those provided by Hopewell. Alternatively, those in need of around-the-clock help are likely to need assistance in skilled long-term care facilities.
No matter what the situation, however, the law demands that the level of care the senior receives be up to a reasonable standard. Any time that a senior's health deteriorates suspiciously or an accident like a fall occurs, it is important to contact legal professionals experienced in these matters to learn how the law applies in your situation.