Population aging refers to an issue where there is an increased number of older individuals compared to younger, and an increased life expectancy rate. The trend can be dangerous for the economy, but also the health of those in the aging population. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of adults over 60 years will double and reach an estimated 2 billion – putting a significant strain on the economy, nursing homes, assisted living, and family members.
When these numbers increase and population aging hits full force, labor forces will decline, fertility decreases, and the age dependency ratio will fluctuate significantly. For example, while there might be ten employees to every elderly individual today, in 2050 they expect that number to be four people for every one elderly person. Imagine what that means for the healthcare system? Some European countries even expect their numbers to reach as low as two workers per one person.
The Unique Challenges of Population Aging in Chicago, IL
The long-term care needs of Baby Boomers and the aging population in 2050 requires action today. These challenges that come with the aging population increase include:
- Finding a payment and insurance system that works for long-term care that can handle the increased number of applicants expected in 2030 – 2050.
- Taking advantage of any advances in medicine that help keep the elderly healthy and active; thus, reducing their dependency on long-term care facilities.
- Changing how society uses community services and making them more accessible so that the aging population can remain at home, but still get assistance when needed.
- Change the cultural view of aging and ensure that older adults are integrated into society more.
Right now, the government and healthcare industry is struggling to find a way to ensure that the aging society will have proper care and access to funding. There are insufficient resources, and currently, the Medicare and Medicaid systems are lacking the complexity to handle a double increase of users.
More than 8 Million Americans Currently Need Long-Term Care Services
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8 million individuals currently need long-term care services – and most of those 8 million are over the age of 65. While there are options for long-term care, these options are expensive.
Long-term care cannot keep up with the booming numbers of those needing the service. In the United States, family members are carrying the financial burden because their loved one’s government assistance and retirement accounts no longer have funds to pay for their services. More Americans are living well past their expected age when they retired, meaning most have inadequate savings to cover those additional five to ten years.
Limited Funds and Limited Staffers for Nursing Homes
Nursing homes have been scrambling to secure funding, and many new nursing homes have been popping up throughout the state and the rest of the country to meet the demands of the aging population. Unfortunately, with all the new nursing homes and assisted living facilities, government agencies are falling behind on inspections and regulations.
With so many new nursing homes, the quality of care has decreased. Companies are lowering their standards when hiring staff for their nursing homes, which means lower quality caregivers and an increased chance of neglect or abuse for residents.
Furthermore, management is less inclined to note neglect or abuse because they are taking on more residents than they used to even ten years ago – stretching the caregiver to patient ratio to the maximum.
The Growing Trend of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Unfortunately, with so little oversight today in long-term care, experts report that elder abuse knowledge is severely lacking. There is no systematic approach or reporting system in place, and if one is not found soon, there will be more cases that go unreported when the aging population doubles by 2050.
The Current Challenges of Elder Abuse and Neglect
The reasons these numbers are so underreported stem from a variety of factors:
- There is no single definition of elder abuse used nationwide; therefore, the forms of abuse and reporting requirements vary by state.
- There is the issue of privacy when researching abuse and neglect, creating ethical dilemmas in healthcare.
- The standards used to investigate and research for signs of abuse and neglect are highly variable, meaning no two inspectors handle or report the same way.
- There is a significant lack of field researchers and investigators for state and federal entities.
Risk Factors Increasing the Chances of Neglect and Abuse
Several studies have been investigating the growing trend of abuse and neglect cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the United States. They have compiled a list of some of the current risk factors that put an older adult at higher risk:
- Social Support: When a person has minimal family or social support, they are at higher risk for all forms of abuse and neglect.
- Dementia: Sadly, patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are at higher risk for abuse and neglect, only because their perpetrator knows that the victim is less likely to be believed if they were to report it, but also unlikely to even remember their mistreatment.
- Functional Impairments: Patients that have limited mobility or other functional impairments which force them to be more reliant on their caregivers have a higher risk for abuse and neglect.
- Gender: Sadly, women are more likely to receive nursing home abuse than male patients.
- Higher Patient Volumes: When a nursing home or assisted living facility have a higher volume of patients to caregivers, there is a higher chance for mistreatment.
The Statistics on Nursing Home Abuse and Long-Term Care Facilities
Elder abuse occurs in the community setting more often than at-home care services. Some of the research has concluded that:
- In 2014, 7.6 percent of the 188,599 complaints received by the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) found the complaints contained issues of abuse, gross neglect or exploitation.
- In a 2008 study, the U.S. General Accountability Office found that licensed facilities had at least one deficiency (for 70% of the population), and 15 percent of those surveys missed harm and jeopardy for the patients.
- Most studies conclude that abuse in long-term care facilities comes from staff members.
The Impact of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse affects not only the victim but family members and the economy. The increased cost of relocating all patients in a facility that is shut down from gross negligence, the healthcare costs required to help rehabilitation victims of abuse and neglect, and the emotional burden are extensive.
The negative impacts of elder abuse include:
- Physical Impact: The physical effect is by far one of the more serious. A person will have physical injuries, such as welts, broken bones, or even bedsores. Elders who receive physical abuse have a 300 percent increased risk of death compared to elderly patients without abuse or neglect.
- Psychological Impact: The psychological impact of abuse and neglect often lasts longer than the wounds themselves. A person could suffer distress, anxiety, depression, and a long-term decline in mental health.
- Financial Impact: The financial impact of abuse and neglect may affect not only the victim, but the healthcare system, government funding, and family members. The economic losses for the victim cost $2.6 billion per year for Americans.
- Social Impact: The consequences socially include everything from decreased social resources, increased expenses for providing social services, and resources that are lost through exploitation.
- Hospitalization and Disability Impact: A victim of elder abuse or neglect is more likely to require hospitalization – about three times more likely. Also, victims are more likely to need emergency department services and have an increased risk of mortality and permanent disability.
- Medical Costs: Medical costs are already on the rise, and with cases of neglect and abuse, the direct medical costs are currently expected to add to more than $5.3 billion for national healthcare costs. Also, it is estimated that these adverse events cost $2.8 billion per year in Medicare costs alone and they are 100 percent preventable.
- Other Costs: There are other costs of elder abuse that affect the community, including the cost to prosecute, punish, rehabilitate, and relocate those living in the facility.
Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the attorneys at Malman Law. Our advocates have extensive experience handling cases of abuse, and we will not rest until your loved one is safe, and the facility responsible provides you with compensation.
Furthermore, we want to help lessen the financial, physical, and psychological burden of the neglect or abuse for you, your loved one, and the community. By holding nursing homes accountable, we hope to reduce the number of abuse cases each year.
Explore your options and speak with an attorney at Malman Law today by calling 888-307-2051 or request more information online.