Why Does Elder Abuse Happen?

Published on Aug 8, 2019 at 1:04 pm in Nursing Home Abuse.

An elderly couple facing away toward a mountain

There are many reasons as to why elder abuse occurs. In some cases, the incident is a spontaneous act perpetrated by someone who is taking advantage of a senior’s situation. In other cases, premeditation is involved. Most elder abuse cases involve an element of power and control exercised by the abuser. In order to protect your loved one from elder abuse, it’s important to understand why it happens in long-term care facilities and in the home.

Poorly Run Nursing Homes

Not all nursing homes are equal when it comes to the care they provide. Some long-term care facilities are poorly run. When this happens, the residents are likely to suffer. Understanding why residents in poorly run nursing homes are more likely to face elder abuse is important so you can be on the lookout for your loved one.

One of the key signs that a nursing home is poorly run is the inability to answer questions or frequent deflection. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s weight, for example, and ask what the plan is to stop weight loss from happening, the person you ask should put you in touch with a dietitian. But if they regularly respond to questions by saying they’re unsure and will find out, your loved one may not be getting the care they need.

Another sign that a nursing home is being poorly run is if you have difficulty getting in touch with anyone. If the nursing staff doesn’t have time to pick up the phones, it could indicate they also don’t have time to answer residents’ call buttons. If, for example, a resident is incontinent and needs assistance with hygiene, they need to be seen right away. If they’re not, moisture could lead to medical complications like bed sores.

Understaffing in Long-Term Care Facilities

A big issue in poorly run nursing homes is understaffing. Nursing homes are understaffed for a number of reasons. For one, the field has a high turnover rate. This is often attributed to low pay and long hours, with little room for growth. Facilities are also understaffed when the owners try to save money by hiring as few people as possible.

When a nursing home doesn’t have enough staff members and nurses, the residents may suffer from elder abuse or neglect. When staff are stretched thin, they may become impatient and strike residents. There’s also the chance a resident could be left alone for long periods of time. If they try to get up on their own, they could fall and sustain a serious injury.

If understaffing has resulted in your loved one being abused, you can hold the facility accountable through a personal injury claim. There are government regulations that establish how nursing homes have to stay staffed depending on factors like how many residents there are and what medical conditions need to be attended to. When homes are in violation of the regulations, the victims may be eligible for compensation to aid in their recovery.

Elder Abuse in the Home

Not all elder abuse takes place in nursing homes. Sometimes, families have a history of relating to each other in a hostile or non-nurturing manner. There may be unresolved conflicts that foster abuse, or a formerly abused family member could reverse the roles if their abuser is incapacitated. Regardless of the history, there’s never an excuse for elder abuse in the home. In addition to the abusive style of interaction, there are other contributing factors.

  • Dependency. When an elderly person becomes dependent on family members for assistance, material and psychological resources may deplete. When this happens, family members may take advantage of their elderly relative—especially when it comes to finances.
  • Stress. Stress is often caused by too few resources to handle the demands of caring for an elderly loved one. The caregiver may not realize the stress is building until they act out.
  • Ageism. Ageism refers to a prejudicial view of older adults. Whether intentional or otherwise, it often stems from a lack of knowledge regarding the aging process and the needs of elderly people.

It can be even harder to deal with elder abuse in the home as opposed to abuse in a nursing facility, because it’s likely you know the abuser and abused well. It’s important to always advocate for your loved one and ensure they are being treated with the care and respect they deserve to live a high-quality life.

If you believe your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, it’s best to alert the proper authorities as soon as possible so you can remove them from that situation. Once they are safe, you can start the process of holding the liable party accountable for your relative’s injuries. To learn more about the legal process, reach out to our lawyers today.



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