Elder Abuse Linked To Early Death

A recent study reveals some disturbing data on senior care and <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/nursing_home_negligence">elder abuse. According to the research conducted at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the risk of death increases significantly—nearly six-fold—when seniors do not care for themselves, reported Medicine Net. The findings appear in the August 5th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Also, when seniors are abused—emotionally, physically, financially, sexually, or through neglect—the risk of death increases by more than double, according the study, said Medicine Net. “Elder self-neglect and abuse really have severe consequences,” said Dr. XinQi Dong, study author and associate professor of medicine at Rush, quoted Medicine Net. According to Dr. Dong, the research indicated that “it’s not just the cognitively impaired,” citing patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, affected by these trends, “Even more capable seniors face a higher risk of premature death from self-neglect,” he said, reported Medicine Net.

According to Dr. Thomas Gill, who authored an accompanying editorial in JAMA, self-neglect in the senior demographic is the most common reason a patient is referred to adult protective services, said Medicine Net.

We’ve been following the widespread issue of nursing home abuse for some time. Last year, the former Bush administration finally published the names of 131 of the nation’s worst nursing homes. And, in a harrowing example of the widespread problem of elder abuse and negligence, last year, the family of a deceased Norwich, Connecticut man filed what is believed to be the first wrongful death lawsuit against officials at Connecticut’s largest nursing home chain: Haven Healthcare. The suit claimed that misappropriation of Haven funds by Chief Executive Officer Raymond Termini contributed to “deplorable conditions.”

In that case, the family also sought permission to sue the state departments of public health and social services, and Nancy Shaffer, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, for failing to investigate and act on complaints lodged by the family.

Self-neglect, or one’s inability to care for oneself, involves not providing sufficient “food, water, clothing, shelter … necessary medications, and not following basic hygiene practices,” said Medicine Net, citing both the study and the accompanying editorial.

The team looked at 9,318 Chicago residents over the age of 65, who were participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, said Medicine Net, which said the review looked at the period from 1993 to 2005; social service agencies reported self-neglect on 1,544 participants and abuse on 113. In seven years, over 4,300 participants died.

Earlier this year we wrote that two nursing homes in the Rochester, New York area were embroiled in an abuse scandal in which one certified nurse aide at the Kirkhaven Nursing Home in Rochester, and another who worked at the Edna Tina Wilson Living Center in Greece, NY, were arrested as part of a state-wide probe into nursing abuse and healthcare fraud.

Unfortunately nursing home abuse is a common crime. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates at least one in 20 nursing home patients has been the victim of negligence and or abuse, though it concedes that the number is probably higher. According to the National Center’s study, 57 percent of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities admitted to having witnessed, and even participating in, acts of negligence and abuse. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nursing home neglect played role in the deaths of nearly 14,000 nursing home patients between 1999 and 2002.

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