Every day, headlines throughout the U.S. paint a grim picture of seniors who have been abused, neglected, and exploited, often by people they trust the most, the staff at the nursing home or assisted living facility they stay at.  Just this week elderly women in New Brunswick wandered away from the facility, fell, and died.  In fact, nursing home abuse is on the rise, over a ten-year study period, incidents were reported to have increased each year.

Elder abuse isn’t confined to letting patients wander off premises but can also include more violent abuse such as sexual assaults, pressure sores, falls, overdoses, choking and malnutrition.  These are terrible things that no one should have to endure, especially not a loved one who should be enjoying their golden years. 

However there are much more subtle types of nursing home abuse that may be easy to overlook. For example, hundreds of nursing home residents across Virginia (VA) and West Virginia (WV) are the victims of nursing home and assisted living overmedication.

Overmedication of elderly patients serves several purposed for nursing homes. Patients who may struggle with memory problems, dementia, or other behavioral problems can be overmedicated so that they will not “cause trouble.” In other cases, patients may be overmedicated simply so that the negligent staff of the nursing home will not have to bother with patients who are awake or mobile.

Research indicates that more than one in ten elders may experience some type of abuse, but only one in five cases or fewer are reported.  One thing is for certain: elder abuse can happen to any older individual – your neighbor, your loved one ‐ it can even happen to you.

So what should you do if you suspect abuse?  First, report your concerns. Remember, most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. If you or someone you know is in a life threatening situation or immediate danger, contact 911 or the local police or sheriff.