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Families need to know signs of nursing home abuse

Americans are getting older as more baby boomers are reaching retirement. Right now, 12 percent of the United States' population is made up of older adults. However, by 2050 the number of older adults in the U.S. will officially outnumber the number of children in the country. As our population here in New Mexico ages, a rising number of healthcare issues can arise. In many cases, older adults need support from those around them in order to be as safe, healthy and happy as possible.

Sometimes, New Mexico families need to make the difficult decision of placing an older family member in a nursing home facility. An assisted living or nursing home facility can often provide an older adult with the day-to-day supervision and medical care that they need, in a way that their family cannot.

While these nursing homes are supposed to treat residents with the upmost care and respect, nursing home abuse is still common. Some experts say that as many as one in six older adults experience some type of neglect or elder abuse. Furthermore, these experts stress that those who do experience elder abuse are 30 percent more likely to die after three years, than those who are not abused.

However, it is important for family members to understand that abuse is not always physical -- it can also be sexual or financial. Family members need to be careful to notice any of the signs of nursing home abuse or neglect including poor hygiene, sudden weight loss, personality changes and more.

If family members do notice some of these changes, they should ensure that abuse or neglect is not occurring. If the family discovers that the nursing home neglect or abuse is occurring, the family should also understand their legal rights. In New Mexico, the victim -- or the victim's family -- may have the right to compensation as a result of the abuse.

Source: The Marietta Daily Journal, "Citizens should watch for signs of elder abuse," Charlie Sewell, Mar. 2, 2014

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