When abuse happens, it tends to be the most vulnerable among us who suffer. The elderly population is a prime example of a demographic that endures a substantial amount of abuse. For many years, elder abuse was not openly talked about and discussed–and even hidden from public view. Then, in the 1970s, the topic received more attention. As a result, research into the issue began to uncover the extent of the problem. Read on for a detailed overview of elder abuse statistics in nursing homes.

There are legal remedies for victims to help recover damages after a nursing home abuse experience. If you are an Illinois resident and ready to start building your case, contact our team at The Law Offices of David H. Brinton, LLC, for a free, no-obligation consultation.

The Growing Elderly Population in the United States

Although elder abuse is a serious matter in the United States, funding for in-depth studies of the scope of elder abuse is lacking especially when compared to other areas of abuse such as child abuse or domestic abuse. Despite the lack of formal studies, many families and friends of those who were abused will tell you that there is enough evidence of a widespread problem.

The older population in the United States is growing steadily according to data from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). In 2018, there were over 52 million Americans aged 65 and older living in the United States. It’s estimated that by 2040, that population will skyrocket to over 80 million people–as high as 21% of the total population.

Due to the average life expectancy rising considerably–what it is now 81 years for women and 76 years for men–those individuals that are aged 85 years and above are projected to triple in their numbers. Today, there are an estimated 6.7 million Americans in this age range. And by 2060, this age group should be around 19 million. In fact, the growing elderly population in the United States is so significant that by 2034, this demographic will have more people than the number of children in the United States.

As the aging population continues to increase its numbers, there is a greater need for long-term care facilities like nursing homes. By 2030, individuals aged 65 and up who require nursing home care will increase by 50%. In addition, individuals who need extensive daily care will also rise. For instance, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is anticipated to increase from 5.8 million to 13.8 million people by the year 2050.

The Prevalence of Mistreatment of the Elderly in Nursing Homes

A study conducted looked at elder abuse prevalence in institutional settings and found the following from self-reported abuse incidents:

  • Psychological abuse was experienced by 33.4% of residents.
  • Physical abuse was experienced by 14.1% of residents.
  • Financial abuse was experienced by 13.8% of residents.
  • Neglect was experienced by 11.6% of residents.
  • Sexual abuse was experienced by 1.9% of residents.

While these numbers are shocking, the reality is that most instances of abuse go unreported. It’s believed that when one incident of abuse is formally reported by a victim, there are as many as 24 or more other unreported instances of abuse.

There are several reasons why underreporting is such a problem in the United States. The top reasons why an elderly person may shy away from reporting mistreatment include:

  • Fear of retaliation by the abuser.
  • Feeling embarrassed or humiliated by making the abuse situation known.
  • Fear that reporting the issue will trigger institutionalization.
  • The requirement for care and the fear that the abuser will discontinue much-needed care if they are reported.
  • Inability to report abuse due to limitations that are either physical, cognitive, or both.

According to the NCEA Technical Assistance Data, financial abuse was a major problem and one of the leading forms of abuse reported in the elderly population.

When individuals reported being victims of physical abuse, this was often not the only type of abuse that they experienced. The National Institute on Aging indicates that there are many different types of abuse that the elderly suffer—with multiple types usually happening at once. Types of abuse that one may experience include:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Sexual
  • Healthcare fraud

Speak to a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines elder abuse as an intentional act or a failure to act that either causes or creates a risk of harm to an elderly person aged 60 years and above. Elder abuse in any form is unacceptable and no one should have to suffer physical, financial, or psychological harm simply because of their vulnerability.

Elder abuse statistics in nursing homes can be frightening, but there’s hope. If you know someone who may be suffering, don’t hesitate to Brinton Law for help. If you have any questions, contact our team today for a free, no-obligation consultation.