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With an ever-growing elderly population, California and other states around the country continue to face greater problems with elder abuse. While much abuse is reported to happen at the hands of family members, a great percentage occurs in nursing homes and assisted living centers of all sizes and types. Fears about nursing home negligence are among the top concerns for families with elderly relatives in need of care and safe living environments.

If you have fears that a relative may be a victim  of nursing home negligence contact an experienced attorney at Teal & Montgomery today to explore your legal options.

California’s abuse reporting

The Center for Investigative Reporting recently released information alleging that the California Department of Public Health has been negligent in its handling of elder abuse allegations. In Southern California alone, more than 900 cases, including those involving assertions of wrongful death, were found essentially shelved and not pursued.

The current head of the department has instituted changes in response to these issues and the backlog is reducing. Changes include a requirement that all reports be screened within 48 hours of being received. However, concerns remain about the decreased number of cases that are actually referred on for further legal action.

The numbers are growing

A recent news article reports that by 2050, the global population will, for the first time ever, be comprised of more elderly people than children. That makes the continued threat of elder abuse startling indeed.

The National Center for Elder Abuse statistics report that 3.2 million people lived in nursing homes in the United States in 2009. They also estimate than one out of every 14 occurrences of neglect is never reported.

Abuse, lack of reporting and lack of proper follow up all pose dangers to the safety of our nation’s elderly population.

Recognizing elder abuse and neglect

Being able to identify the signs of elder abuse is one of the primary ways that families can help keep their relatives safe. Much neglect is unfortunately easily apparent in the form of insufficient personal care. Visible signs include:

  • Matted, ratted or greasy hair
  • Dirty body, often foul-smelling
  • Skin abrasions, cuts or bruise
  • Untreated or worsening conditions such as bedsores
  • Withdrawn behavior that is out of character

It is imperative that any warning signs be heeded in order to prevent a situation from continuing too long. Medical conditions or general frailty can make an elderly person more susceptible to serious injury or death from such situations and prompt response is the best way to prevent this.

What families can do

If you have a relative living in an assisted living facility or nursing home, developing relationships with the staff members that care for your loved one is wise. The American Association for Justice estimates that 90 percent of nursing homes do not have a sufficient level of staff, leaving residents vulnerable and lacking of proper care.

Additionally, obtaining the right assistance is critical. Reporting suspected abuse to authorities is important but consulting with an attorney for proper legal representation is encouraged. When facing institutions, many of which are part of larger corporate systems, you will want to have the level of knowledge and experience of the attorneys at Teal & Montgomery to help your family.