(NewsUSA) - Your aging mother can no longer drive and forgets to turn off the stove. It's no longer safe for her to live on her own, but taking her into your home simply isn't realistic.
For the many Americans who find themselves in the described situation, nursing homes provide the best option for elder care. Forty-three percent of Americans over the age of 65 will spend part of their life in a nursing home, according to the The United States Government Accountability Office. As the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, by 2050, the population of Americans aged 65 and older will reach 89 million, it's safe to assume that the demand for high-quality elder care will only increase.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes and adult family homes are overburdened, leading to a lower quality of care. Cases of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes often pop up in the media.
In Tacoma, Wash., adult family home resident Nadra McSherry died in pain when her caretakers did not tell her family, doctor or nurse that McSherry had developed an infected bedsore. Bedsores are often a sign that a facility does not have enough staff to meet the number of patients, as preventing them involves moving patients every few hours, something that overwhelmed caretakers may struggle to accomplish.
McSherry's family sued the adult family home, Narrows View Manor, as well as the Department of Social and Health Services, which allowed the home to remain open despite numerous past health violations.
"Stories like Nadra McSherry are all too familiar," says Hagens Berman's Tony Shapiro, the lead attorney. "It's up to the families to take action and protect their mom or dad."
McSherry's family settled last year for $565,000. Despite McSherry's death and a long record of other violations, the state has not revoked the adult family home's license. It remains in business.
Families searching for elder care can check the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Nursing Home Compare ratings, which evaluate homes based on a five-star system. But the ratings aren't always reliable -- families have to monitor the situation to make sure their loved ones' needs are being met. If a loved one shows signs of abuse, like unexplained injuries, dramatic weight loss or fear of the staff, families need to take action.
"If you suspect abuse, check online resources for help or consult an attorney," says Shapiro.