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Understanding ‘ageism’ as a factor in nursing home neglect

Robert Butler was the author of “Why Survive? Being Old in America,” published in 1975. Butler is credited with coining the term “ageism” to describe the act of discriminating against older people. When we think of ageism, it is difficult to separate an ageist mindset from the egregious offense of nursing home abuse.

Members of one of our most vulnerable populations — older adults — are too often neglected and abused in our country’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. While there isn’t yet a solid body of research linking ageism to elder abuse, we as members of society can certainly do our part to raise awareness about the ways in which ageism can lead to the marginalization and mistreatment of vulnerable adults.

For example, ageism rigidly defines older people as senile, slow, old-fashioned and foundationally different from younger people, but the reality is that getting older doesn’t stop your life from being complex and ever changing.

Effectively, ageism allows younger people not to identify with their elders, and this can lead to a sense that older adults are somehow less human. To protect against ageism, we should emphasize experiences that are common to old and young.

If you are considering a care facility for your elder loved one, it is important to do some research, and that often means asking the right questions. For example, does the facility do extensive background checks on employees? How many nurses are on duty? How many staff members are there? And what is the nursing home’s track record for state inspections?

Unfortunately, nursing home neglect can be difficult to pinpoint, since older loved ones are often not able to clearly communicate their wishes. If you suspect that an elder loved one has been abused or neglected in a care facility in New York, then it is important to contact the proper authorities as soon as possible.

Additionally, a personal injury attorney can help ensure that you and your loved one are compensated for damages resulting from nursing home negligence.

Source: National Center on Elder Abuse, “Prevention Strategies,” 2014 

Related Posts: Four steps to reduce the risk of nursing home abuse, What Are The Signs Of Elder Abuse?, Underreporting elder abuse a widespread problem

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