Most of us imagine our golden years among family, especially when we are in decline and need extra attention to maintain our health and to help with daily activities. The reality is that long-term care outside the home, such as a nursing home, is the only option for millions of Americans. Nursing homes provide a last resort for many families, but they should be aware that there are pros and cons. Here we discuss the negative aspects of nursing home care.
- Lack of social interaction. If you scan the website or brochure of the average nursing home, you’ll see a level of social activity that resembles an exotic vacation resort. Sadly, the reality of nursing home life is often more like living in a hospital. If you have spent any time confined to a hospital bed, you probably understand the value of a visit from a friend or loved one. Sadly, many nursing home residents spend day after day without much human contact, except for what they receive from the nursing home staff. It is difficult to understate the importance of visits from friends and family to relieve the anguish (and even dangerous health consequences) of loneliness and isolation.
- Declining standards of care. Perhaps the greatest challenge facing health care in the United States is the profit motive of health care corporations and their influence on elected officials who are trusted with governing how they operate. Over recent decades, independent nursing homes have been purchased by corporations, and studies have shown that this trend has translated into cost cutting and decreasing standards of care. For-profit nursing homes typically cut staffing levels and services to the bare minimum that government watchdogs will allow to increase profitability. Meanwhile their powerful lobbies use their influence over state and federal lawmakers to decrease unannounced inspections and reduce the fines associated with infractions so that their standards can sink even lower.
- Abuse & neglect. The greed of the nursing home industry has created a common situation in nursing homes where there are simply too few employees to meet the needs of residents. The result is that there simply not enough hours in the day for employees to meet the basic human needs of the residents, and the operators of nursing homes know it. It also creates fatigue, pressure, and low morale for nursing home staff, who are among the lowest paid workers in the health care industry. Ultimately, this lack of proper staffing levels, training, equipment, and safety protocols leads to avoidable injuries and deaths for nursing home residents. Countless other elderly residents endure devastating abuse and neglect to their safety and dignity, and most of this goes unreported.
- Loss of freedom. After living full, independent lives, many nursing home residents find it can be a painful adjustment to living in a situation where their schedules, diet, privacy, and many other choices are dictated by others. Although some of these regimented schedules provide a benefit to overall health, it can be a frustrating and depressing experience for residents.
- Cost. Healthcare in the United States is the most expensive in the world, and the cost of around-the-clock care for the elderly and infirmed is astronomical. Although some costs are currently covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the cost of nursing home care is a growing concern. In the U.S., the segment of the population that is reaching the age where they need long-term care is exploding, while the cost of health care continues to accelerate, which will require difficult choices for taxpayers and lawmakers.
Our attorneys at Brown & Barron, LLC focus on representing the victims of medical malpractice and nursing home abuse/neglect. We know first-hand how these facilities function, and just how vulnerable patients and residents are to injuries. If you believe you or a family member has suffered as a result of medical malpractice or nursing home negligence, we invite you to contact our team as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options. To contact our team, call (410) 698-1717 today for a consultation.