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Nursing home abuse is often underreported

It is almost always difficult to help our parents and other elders when they are no longer able to do it on their own. This is why thousands of Americans rely on nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities to help with this monumental task. Although parents may no longer live in their children's home as in previous centuries, we still feel an obligation to make sure they are safe.

This is why trends of abuse and neglect among nursing homes and their employees are especially troubling. Quality of life is very important in the golden years, while the medical and emotional challenges mount. If clinicians and support staff are not properly looking after residents' interests, the consequences can be serious.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is warning local law enforcement agencies that they may not be hearing about elder abuse, nursing home neglect and other related problems when they should be. Their research shows that although incidents serious enough to require medical treatment must be reported, several institutions and employees sidestep these responsibilities to protect themselves.

The study shows that around one in five incidents is never reported or not reported in time to make a difference. Five states may only have records for 3% of the incidents requiring medical help.

Victims of nursing home neglect or abuse, as well as the families or estates of victims, have the right to sue for financial damages and to prevent future transgressions. An attorney can help recommend the best way to uncover problems and act accordingly within civil courts.

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