The Number of North Carolina Elder Abuse and Neglect Complaints is Rising, Say State Officials

May 1, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina officials are reporting an increase in complaints of possible elder abuse and neglect incidents, with an approximately 20% increase in the the number of requests made between ’06 –’07 and ’07-’08 to state adult-protection officers asking that they further investigate the allegations. One reason for this, according to state ombudsmen for long-term care Sharon Wilder, is that the number of people older than 60 living in North Carolina is on the rise.

By 2030, there are expected to be almost 2.9 million seniors over age 60 living in the state. Wilder also says the number of North Carolina elder abuse complaints are increasing because the children of elderly people living in North Carolina nursing homes are less likely to put up with allowing their loved ones to become the victims of caregiver abuse or nursing home neglect. State officials say that 15% of elder abuse incidents happen in long-term care facilities, with the other incidents taking place in private residences.

One challenge to investigating elder abuse and neglect allegations is that in certain cases, the victim may be too sick or frail to report what is happening to him or her. The News & Observer recently published an article about one case involving Della Jarrett, an 88-year-old woman staying at a Raleigh nursing home. She had unexplained bruises on her face, and no one from Sunnybrook Healthcare and Rehabilitation could explain to Jarrett’s daughter, Doris Weaver, why her mother’s eye and face were bruised and swollen. Jarrett has advanced dementia and cannot walk or roll over.

Weaver reported the incident to Raleigh police. Meantime, Sunnybrook officials suspended an employee but deny that Jarrett was the victim of nursing home abuse. North Carolina law defines caretaker abuse to include the intentional act of inflicting physical injury or pain and purposely depriving someone of services.

Yet even when a nursing home worker isn’t intentionally trying to hurt a resident or withhold the proper care, injuries and accidents can happen. Nursing inexperience can lead to fall accidents, failure to properly clean a resident’s wounds, failure to follow specific feeding procedures, and poor resident supervision.

Abuse hard to verify if injured can’t speak, The News & Observer, June 3, 2009

National Center on Elder Abuse

Related Web Resources:
Nursing Homes, Medicare.gov

North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services

 
 

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