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Preventing elderly abuse in nursing homes

Preventing elderly abuse in nursing homes. (WRSP)

The most recent audit by the Inspector General's Office of Health and Human Services says Illinois has the highest number of nursing home neglect incidents in the U.S.

Unfortunately, 40 percent of these incidents go unreported to local authorities for many reasons. But there are things to do and look out for to make sure your loved ones don't suffer from neglect or any sort of abuse.

With 1.4 million seniors living in nursing homes nationwide, anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home understands how important it is for them to be well taken care of.

"We have a lot of family involvement here which is really good and I think they feel really comfortable that if there's ever an issue they can come and discuss that with us," said Jennifer Buhlig, Director of Sales and Marketing at Springfield Supportive Living.

Buhlig says they do everything they can to make sure their residents are in good hands.

“Background checks are the most important. It's a requirement and that's what we do to ensure we are hiring the best people to provide the best care," Buhlig said.

Unfortunately, there are places where abuse and neglect does happen. Buhlig says there are many different cases, from physical to emotional and sexual abuse, but there are signs you can watch out for.

"Changes in their personalities or demeanors sometimes that can indicate there is a problem. Staying in contact with the staff if you have concerns or worries, make sure you address it with them right away,” Buhlig said.

This is crucial because many seniors are afraid or just don't know who to ask for help.

"That and they probably feel like it's better if they don't talk about it because they don't want to get anyone in trouble or make a complaint,” Buhlig said.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 90 percent of abusers are family members.

"Yeah it's a double edged sword you know, they may be mistreated but yet they may not have any other family or anyone to rely on so they're relying on that one person," Buhlig said.

If you think someone you know may be a victim of any sort of abuse or neglect you should call the police for further investigation. There's also a 24-hour hotline you can call. That number is 1-866-800-1409.

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