According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global population of people over 60 years old will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050. Unfortunately, about one in six seniors experienced some form of abuse in a community setting over the past year, and rates of elder abuse are elevated in long-term care facilities, with two in three staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a global problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse can be defined as an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. There are many different types of elder abuse, ranging from physical, emotional, and financial. Unfortunately, these acts are usually perpetrated by people whom the individual trusts. Whether the abuse happens at home or at short-term or long-term care facilities, it can severely impact the physical and emotional wellbeing of people who are already vulnerable. The consequences can be fatal.
How Can Elder Abuse Be Prevented?
The first step to preventing elder abuse: know the signs. Unexplained cuts or bruises, poor hygiene, excessive medication use, or unusual spending habits could indicate an abusive situation. Being a point of support for that person and checking in whenever possible can make a world of difference.
On a larger scale, elder abuse can also be prevented by creating safe spaces and communities for vulnerable populations and caregivers alike, as well as providing additional training to individuals working in facilities that care for older populations. There are many ways in which new systems and initiatives can be implemented to prevent elder abuse, but further visibility and support is needed.
HMS’ Commitment to Preventing and Ending Elder Abuse
A large part of our work at HMS is dedicated to conducting state and federal surveys that ensure vulnerable populations are receiving the best quality of care possible. We work with short-term and long-term care facilities all around the country, with highly-trained survey teams focusing on regulatory compliance to save vulnerable individuals from suffering the devastating effects of elder abuse. Part of the survey process requires observations, interviews, and record reviews to help verify regulatory compliance. At HMS, we believe all vulnerable individuals deserve to be treated with dignity and care. Preventing elder abuse in nursing homes and healthcare facilities is a crucial aspect of our mission.
No individual should ever have to experience abuse, but we want to especially raise awareness about this problem on World Elder Abuse Day. Vulnerable populations deserve the best quality care possible, in a safe environment, with staff and caregivers who treat them with dignity and respect.