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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Nursing Home Abuse Higher Among Black Americans

Nursing Home Abuse

One area of concern surrounding nursing home care that is increasing as fast as the aging population is nursing home abuse. From 2005 to 2007, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a study of nursing homes and found that 91 percent were cited for deficiencies. In 2007, 17 percent were cited for actual harm to patients. What is more disturbing is that race was found to be one factor that contributed to the risk of abuse. And more than any other race, black Americans are more at risk for experiencing nursing home abuse.

One reason is that patients with mental and physical disabilities who require more care in nursing homes than other patients are at greater risk for abuse and neglect, and black nursing home residents tend to have poorer functional status than residents of other races, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Along with this, there is a shortage of nursing staff to care for patients. The average registered nurse has 12.6 patients, and there is an average of 120 patients for every nurses aide and orderly. In addition, elderly blacks may be more likely than residents of other races to be in nursing homes that have serious deficiencies. Government funded nursing homes receive reimbursement based on the number of residents who are sicker and require more personal care and medications.

Signs of Abuse
Nursing home abuse is not just a matter of statistics. It's a social and humanitarian issue that affects entire families. Here are some of the things to look for to determine if abuse is occurring:
  • Unexplained fear or anxiety
  • Unexplained bruises or cuts
  • Bedsores, infections, loss of hair
  • Withdrawal or other strange behavior

What to do if abuse is suspected
The first thing to do is talk to the family member in the nursing home to get all the facts. Although this is clearly an emotional situation, the family should try to remain calm and discuss the findings with the nursing home administrator. Remember, they may not even be aware of the situation. If the response is inadequate, the next step is to report the abuse immediately to Adult Protective Services. To find an agency by state, families can look on the website of the National Council on Aging or call 800-677-1116.
DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practitioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.