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If you were to look at the statistics provided by Nursing Home Abuse Justice, you would be appalled at how our elderly are being taken care of. There are as many as 5 million elders that are abused every single year in nursing homes. And of these cases, only 1 in 14 are actually ever reported. In fact, according to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, that number is actually 1 in 25.
While we all talk about the terrible abuse our elders suffer, we seldom talk about the efforts being made by government as well as non-government organizations to make the lives of our elders better.
The good news is that this is an issue that is gaining national attention. In 2019, the US Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to understand how widespread the issue of elder abuse was.
Post this, the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) announced that it had issued new a new guidance to help health inspectors quickly identify as well as prevent situations of abuse.
The organization also announced that it was making changes to its 5-Star Quality Rating System to make it more stringent.
This rating system was created to help families and caregivers compare nursing homes that had been vetted by the CMS.
The CMS assesses nursing homes on 3 broad categories: Health inspections, staffing and Quality Measures. Each parameter has in-depth sub-parameters, so that families know how the nursing homes have been rated. These ratings are given only after a qualified health inspector has assessed a nursing home’s facilities.
CMS also fines nursing homes if they do not adhere to the care standards laid out by the government. The money gained from these fines is channeled back into the system to prevent further events of abuse, to train nursing home staff and even improve the quality of life for elders suffering from dementia.
CMS has improved the lot of dementia patients significantly. Dementia patients are usually treated worse than other elders, since their behavior can be disruptive. The short-cut to managing such elders was dosing them with antipsychotic drugs to keep them in an almost vegetative state. Through its efforts, CMS has decreased the antipsychotic medication use on dementia patients by 38.9% between 2011 and 2018.
CMS is not the only organization to focus on elder nursing home abuse prevention. There are organizations across the country that are working towards ensuring our elders have a better life.
The Administration on Aging, a federal organization, runs a program called the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Program. This program provides training to health care providers, law enforcement officers, and other professionals on how to identify elder abuse, as well as how to respond to it.
There are numerous anti-elder abuse organizations being supported by the government throughout the country.
However much that government and non-profit organizations do, it will never be enough.
This is because taking care of our elders has to be a community effort. We are all responsible for ensuring that they live their lives in well-deserved comfort.
We can cut down on the risk of elder abuse by creating support systems and services so that they do not suffer in isolation. If we find cases of abuse, we should report them, and even make use of the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer to punish the perpetrators and set an example for others.
It doesn’t matter how old we are. We all deserve to be treated with respect and consideration.