Advocates against nursing home neglect needed

A number of organizations and agencies are calling attention to the vulnerable status of the elderly in Tennessee and across the United States and addressing the need to speak out. As people age, they may become hard of hearing, their eyesight may diminish, their memories may fade and some become very frail. All these problems, which develop with old age, make the elderly vulnerable to nursing home neglect and abuse.

Anyone in Tennessee who suspects that an elderly friend or family member may be a victim of abuse or neglect should not hesitate to act. It is advised that one should chat to the possible victim as a means to ascertain what might be happening. More importantly, suspicions of neglect or abuse must be reported to the relevant authorities.

There are many signs that are indicative of neglect and abuse. For example, a victim may be experiencing difficulty sleeping. Other symptoms include depression, confusion, inexplicable weight loss and agitation. Some display violent behavior, others may become withdrawn and stop taking part in activities they have previously enjoyed. Physical indicators of possible neglect or abuse include the presence of bed sores, other conditions easily prevented, messiness or a lack of personal hygiene.

The U.S. Administration on Aging describes elderly abuse as negligent, intentional or willful actions by any person that causes a vulnerable adult to suffer harm or places a vulnerable person at risk of suffering harm. Elderly abuse can take many forms, including sexual, psychological, physical and financial abuse. The neglect and abuse can be at the hands of family members, caregivers, such as nursing home staff, and even friends or other residents living in the same nursing home.

There is little doubt that the responsibility of looking after an older person requires a lot of a person. Caregivers are advised to ensure they take proper care of themselves in order to take proper care of the elderly people in their care. When nursing home neglect is suspected, immediate action should be taken. If family members of a possible victim are unsure of Tennessee laws governing abuse and neglect, the best course of action may be to consult with a lawyer focusing in the field for an evaluation of the case.    

Source:, "Speak up to safeguard elders from abuse", Gina Kraman, Oct. 13, 2016

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