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Nursing home abuses impact our most vulnerable citizens

Reports of neglect in Mississippi nursing homes and throughout the country are increasing at an alarming rate. Investigations of these incidents typically reveal the problems to be due to understaffing, a lack of training provided to the staff or a combination of both. Far more pernicious is the rise of intentional abuse inflicted on the elderly residents by their caretakers.

Numerous studies report that elder abuse primarily manifests itself in one of two ways. Physical abuse is the more obvious one, involving battery or assault. The signs can be unexplained broken bones, bruises, cuts, welts or burn marks as examples. Less apparent is emotional or psychological abuse, which can be verbal or non-verbal.

Despite the increase in reports of elder neglect and abuse, experts suggest that these numbers are merely the tip of the iceberg. It is suspected that the majority of elder abuse cases go unreported for a variety of reasons. In many instances, the victim cannot clearly communicate the details of the assault or is unable to communicate at all. Other reasons include fear of retaliation by the caretaking staff, a sense of isolation and feeling that no one would believe them if they complained.

As a nursing home neglect lawyer may explain, the family and friends of the individual confined to a nursing home must act as that person's advocate. Loved ones should always be on the lookout for irregularities in care, unexplained injuries or changes in the resident's behavior. While it is expected that some changes and ultimately deterioration will occur in an elderly nursing home patient, there may instead be an external force creating an intentional or negligent condition that is completely preventable.

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