Over five million senior citizens are estimated to be abused each year in the United States — and yet, from that harrowing number, only around 16 percent of elder abuse cases are reported throughout the country.
People who report abuse don’t do it to be rewarded or celebrated — they do it because of a kind of responsibility and faith. They have a responsibility to their communities to help protect others and keep them safe from harm, and they have faith that their actions can mean something. Specifically, they have faith that, by reporting the crime, they can be a part of necessary change.
This might help explain why nursing home abuse and neglect is so often unreported, why only around 16 percent of individuals who are hurt in a nursing home report the crime. It may have to do with their ever-diminishing faith — not a religious faith — but a faith in their own abilities, a faith in their own voice, in their own future.
When we put a loved one in a nursing home, we most often do so out of love. We believe that our elderly loved one will be happier there, that they will have more attention to their needs, that they will be safer in their environment, be more entertained, be more protected from harm — thanks to constant monitoring and near-constant check-ins.
It’s a shame that out of something so full of love, something so thoughtful we may find our loved ones in a situation that couldn’t be farther from what was hoped for. A nursing home that’s drastically understaffed, say, or that even employs individuals who go so far as to sexually abuse or physically assault residents.
In such a situation, it’s easy to lose your faith. It’s easy to lose your hope — you had so much of the two after all, when your loved one’s time in the nursing home began. But now there’s the stress of removing your loved one from danger, of taking the extra precautions to keep them safe, of checking up on their medical paperwork, attending to their medication and dietary requirements… You’re busy, and you lost a whole lot of faith in the whole business of nursing homes.
But it’s at this very point that you specifically cannot give up. At this specific point you have to stretch a little bit more, do a little bit more — speak up a little bit more. Why? Because out of the millions of Americans who are harmed from nursing home abuse in this country, only 16 percent do so. We simply can’t give up, because it’s not just about us.
If your loved one was hurt by nursing home abuse, we ask you to not stay quiet. Stand up. Be a voice that is heard in Kentucky. Because Kentucky needs you to speak up for its aging population — and we need to do something about nursing home abuse, now.