A sobering report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) this week highlights the systemic levels of abuse that the world's elderly population encounters each month. The United Nations News Centre reported that millions of elderly disclosed significant levels of abuse across the world. These numbers are worrisome for two reasons. First and foremost because they illustrate the widespread and rampant abuse of the elderly population, but also because there are likely many amongst the elderly population whose abuse is never reported for fear of reprisal or inability to report their abuse. As a result, untold numbers of elderly nursing home residents and those being cared for around the world are forced to suffer silently.
The World Health Organization details that abuse in institutions, such as nursing homes, may include "physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity (by for instance leaving them in soiled clothes) and choice over daily affairs, intentionally providing insufficient care (such as allowing them to develop pressure sores), over- and under-medicating and withholding medication from patients; and emotional neglect and abuse."
The report went onto note that here in the United States, in a survey of nursing home staff, thirty-six percent had witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly resident or patient in the previous year; ten percent admitted to committing at least one act of physical abuse towards and elderly patient; and forty percent of staff had admitted to psychologically abusing patients. Taken together, this report showcases a worrying trend that nursing home abuse may only be getting worse throughout the country and world.