Why elder abuse victims suffer in silence

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2023 | Nursing Home Negligence |

Statistics show that nursing home residents continue to experience abuse of all kinds, including physical, financial and even sexual abuse. People in their later years are among the most defenseless people, making them easy prey for abusive caretakers and fellow residents. Despite their pain and suffering, victims choose to endure in silence rather than report their abusers.

It’s easy to feel small and helpless when you need someone else’s help to perform the most basic tasks, such as using the toilet, bathing and eating. In nursing homes, staff hold control over many aspects of the resident’s life. Defying staff could make life very uncomfortable for the resident.

Fear of retaliation keeps residents quiet

Not all staff are abusive, and not all residents stay quiet. However, many of those who have found their voice were met with retaliation. When news of their abuse comes to light, staff may become resentful and redirect their anger toward residents.

Frustrated staff mistreat residents in the cruelest ways. There have been reports of staff sabotaging meals, prohibiting residents from receiving visitors and leaving residents stuck on their own feces for hours. Some staff members will go so far as to threaten residents’ families if they report the abuse.

As a result, many nursing home abuse victims prefer to stay quiet. They believe that reporting would only backfire on them and worsen their situation.

Encouraging residents to report

It can be challenging to convince residents to report abuse if they do not feel safe doing so. Addressing such issues should fall on nursing facilities, which have the authority to train the staff, hire additional staff, develop reporting processes and impose a zero-tolerance policy. Residents and their loved ones can only do so much to prevent the situation.

With the resident’s permission, their close relatives can pay them a visit. Regular visits from trusted friends and family could provide residents an avenue to voice their concerns in a safe and private setting.

It’s possible that residents need a fresh perspective to help them see what’s really going on so families should remain alert for any signs of mistreatment.

Nursing homes are severely underfunded and understaffed, leading to overworked and inadequately trained staff. However, this does not excuse abusive behavior. Nursing homes may be persuaded to act if residents and their relatives report abuse.