Everyone knows the population of the United States is aging. Entire news cycles are spent regaling us with statistics and projections of Connecticut’s and the remainder of the country’s recent penchant for ‘greying.’ Because of this, in both political and legal circles, the issues that affect older people are becoming more and more visible and important. One of these is the abuse and neglect of people living in long-term care facilities or nursing homes.
As we have previously pointed out, there are several layers of regulation at both the state and government levels that are intended to curb and punish the abuse of nursing home residents. This includes laws regarding ‘mandatory reporters,’ as well as agencies that are supposed to investigate and pursue claims of elder abuse both in and out of long-term facilities.
However, like with many government agencies these days, resources are stretched thin for these organizations, and they can only do so much. Further, they are restricted by their mandates in the types of resolutions they can force with homes that allow abuse to occur.
As with many issues, the best people to look out for is someone you know and care about personally and on an individual level. In Connecticut, this usually means family and friends. These are the individuals most likely to notice signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect and to have a stake in taking action upon them.
One action that can have quite an effect, not only on the individual but on society as a whole ,is the use of civil lawsuits to hold negligent facilities responsible for injuries caused. While the first purpose of these legal actions is to compensate the injured individual and his or her family for damage that was done, secondarily, the threat of major awards can create an incentive for facilities to ensure that nursing home abuse and neglect does not occur under their rooves. When this happens, society as a whole, wins as prevention is usually more efficient than punishment.