Nursing Home Abuse Increasing Through COVID-19 Pandemic
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are designed to keep the elderly safe when they need assistance taking care of themselves. It’s shocking to discover that nursing home residents are often neglected and abused across the United States. For those who live in a nursing home or have loved ones who live in these facilities, the fear of elder abuse during this COVID-19 pandemic is heightened.
How Does COVID-19 Effect Elderly Abuse?
Nursing home or long-term care facility residents face multiple threats during the current pandemic. They are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Since they’re exposed to many individuals in a close setting, the virus can spread quickly.
In a September 2020 Psychiatric Times article, Dr. Lyketsos, Dr. Burhanullah, and Dr. Malik claim that one of the most disturbing social consequences of COVID-19 is a significant increase in the number of elder abuse cases. The NCEA reports that around 10% of older adults experience abuse each year in the United States.
Elder abuse is regarded as an intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or person that may cause or create a severe risk of harm to an older adult. This includes physical and mental abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect or mistreatment. Many practices in the current COVID-19 pandemic can be labeled as abusive, including the refusal to hospitalize patients and their lack of prioritization in access to care are some of the most blatant violations of human rights.
According to the Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service, there’s a 3.6% risk of mortality for people in their 60s and increases to 8.0% and 14.8% for those in their 70s or 80s.
Not only do pervasive ageist stereotypes contribute to adverse health outcomes, but ageism among health care professionals can result in discriminatory practices that place the elderly at risk. Studies have shown that widespread negative attitudes toward older people among physicians, medical students, and nurses can lead to consequences for older patients.
Lack Of Visitation Enables Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse states that social isolation is one of the most significant risk factors for elder abuse. Under normal circumstances, loved ones can regularly visit and check on their relatives. However, many nursing homes and long-term care facilities are prohibiting in-person visits as a preventative measure. This makes it much harder for loved ones to notice signs of neglect or abuse. The pandemic has created a greater dependency of older adults on nursing home staff, which might be exploited.
Overburdened Staff Can Cause Neglect
Elderly residents are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect from nursing home staff, as abuse generally tends to escalate in times of crisis. Nursing homes are notoriously understaffed. This is a practical issue that extends beyond state lines. It’s led to an alarming number of deaths and a rampant issue of neglect. Many essential workers, such as nursing home staff, are stressed and burned out during this time and are more likely to lash out towards patients or residents. It’s even harder to strictly follow sanitation procedures when a nurse finds her patient load doubled because half of her co-workers are home. Equipment shortages are another significant problem that nursing homes are now facing. As more than 90,000 of the nation’s long-term care residents have died in a pandemic that has pushed staffs to the limit, advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of death separate from the virus has claimed tens of thousands more, often because the overburdened staff isn’t able to give patients the proper care they require.
Nursing facilities still have a basic obligation to provide minimum care for residents. This obligation does not get temporarily suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing homes can and will be held accountable for the neglect or abuse of elderly residents.
Call Goss Law Firm Today
If you believe that your loved one is not being protected from COVID-19, or if a loved one has contracted this illness in a care facility and thinks that it is because of the staff’s negligence, it’s essential to contact an experienced, compassionate nursing home abuse lawyer at Goss. We’ll investigate your case, help you understand your legal options, and fight for your family’s rights.
Our attorneys are doing all they can to help people during this pandemic. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact our office today at 816-888-5000. We’re available via text, phone, and email. We’ll handle all aspects of your claim remotely to protect our community and staff’s health.