Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, sponsored by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder abuse. Elder abuse and neglect is a global problem, in the home and in assisted living facilities. The elderly are being abused and neglected in every country, and in every imaginable way. This is an epidemic, and examples can be found everywhere.
Last night, an 85-year-old woman went missing from her nursing home in Surrey, England and the police continue to search for her today. This is a classic example of nursing home staff failing to supervise residents. Frequently, the staff is unable to care for patients because of understaffing issues, which nursing home administrators often neglect to improve. Families can not always be present to make sure that their elderly loved ones are sufficiently cared for, and it is the responsibility of nursing home staff to fulfill the promise they make to families to look after their relatives. The Surrey nursing home resident wandered off and is at serious risk not only because she is alone and lost without money or identification, but because she is diabetic and requires regular medication. This unfortunate mistake is another illustration of the importance of being constantly aware of signs of abuse and neglect in the elderly in order to prevent the occurrence of mistreatment.
An $825,000 settlement was recently reached for a 75-year-old Illinois nursing home resident who died as a result of similar neglect. Even though the resident had dementia and a history of wandering, the nursing home provided a tracking bracelet but failed to verify that it was functioning, failed to properly supervise him, and failed to promptly notify the police. As a consequence of this neglect, the man wandered out of the facility and into bitter cold temperatures, resulting in hypothermia and ultimately death. The resident was represented by John J. Perconti and Patricia Gifford of Chicago law firm Levin & Perconti.