Elder Abuse InfoGraphic

Elder abuse is common in Oklahoma and throughout the nation. Every year, thousands of Oklahoma residents are abused, neglected, and exploited by their family members or caregivers employed by nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Many of these victims are frail and vulnerable, and some suffer from medical conditions which leave them physically or mentally unable to resist their abusers. For senior citizens who rely on caregivers to help meet their basic needs, abuse or neglect can cause devastating injuries, or even wrongful death. Our nursing home abuse lawyers have created this infographic and accompanying article to educate Oklahoma residents about the scope of the problem, and what to do if you’re worried about your mom or dad.

Oklahoma Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Elder abuse is already widespread, and it’s becoming more and more common each year. According to officials with Adult Protective Services (APS) in the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), which is responsible for protecting vulnerable adults from being abused and exploited, the number of Oklahoman elder abuse victims is steadily increasing by about 3% annually. This is confirmed by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), which reports that “available data from state Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies show an increasing trend in the reporting of elder abuse.”

So how bad is the problem in Oklahoma? Unfortunately, the numbers paint a grim picture.

Referrals to APS have increased steadily over time, climbing 133% from FY 1992 to FY 2002. In 2003, APS investigated about 16,000 reports of abuse. More than half of these investigations – about 61%, or 9,760 investigations – confirmed that abuse was occurring. By 2014, the total number of APS investigations climbed to 19,241 – an increase of about 3,200 cases over a period of 11 years.

More than 17,000 investigations were conducted in 2009. That year, the OKDHS found that:

  • 66% of reports involved neglect
  • 22% of reports involved financial exploitation of seniors
  • 12% of reports involved abuse

While neglect and abuse have the potential to overlap, they are actually separate concepts. Abuse refers to the intentional infliction of harm, like hitting or kicking a victim. Neglect, which can result from unintentional carelessness or be a form of abuse, involves failure to provide adequate care and assistance. For instance, bed sores (pressure ulcers) are a common warning sign of neglect, because they typically develop when nursing home staff fail to reposition bed-bound residents and wash their bed sheets regularly.

How Common is Elder Abuse in the United States?

At the national level, NCEA reports that:

  • Somewhere between one and two million Americans have been abused, neglected, or mistreated by their primary caregivers.
  • One in three nursing homes have been cited for nursing home abuse and other related infractions.
  • One quarter of the aides prosecuted for abusing patients have criminal records, while about 5% of all nursing home aides have criminal records.

Disturbing as these numbers are, they represent merely the tip of the iceberg. Some experts believe that for each case of nursing home neglect, abuse, or exploitation which actually gets reported to the authorities, another five cases go unreported. This alarming assertion echoes a statement released by the NCEA:

“Unfortunately, we simply do not know for certain how many people are suffering from elder abuse and neglect… A May, 2008 study conducted by the U.S. General Accountability Office revealed that state surveys understate problems in licensed facilities: 70% of state surveys miss at least one deficiency and 15% of surveys miss actual harm and immediate jeopardy of a nursing home resident.”

The CDC notes that its own abuse estimate – one in 10 people over the age of 60 – “is likely an underestimate because many victims are unable or afraid to tell the police, family, or friends about the violence.”

What Should I Do if My Parent or Grandparent is Being Neglected?

If you’re worried that your parent or grandparent is being mistreated or receiving poor quality care at his or her nursing home or assisted living facility, there are a few steps you should take as soon as possible before the situation escalates.

First, you should speak to the nursing home administrator about your concerns. Tell them that you are unhappy with the care your loved one is receiving, and that you are going to report the facility. Don’t just say it; make sure to do it. You can file a report with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) by completing and submitting this OSDH complaint form.

You should also report your concerns to the following agencies:

  • OKDHS, Nursing Home Investigation Unit – (405) 521-2281
  • Office of State Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Unit – (405) 521-4274
  • Office of the State Ombudsman – (405) 521-6734
  • OKDHS – (800) 234-7258

If the nursing home or assisted living facility fails to address your concerns satisfactorily, then in addition to filing a report with the state health department, you should also consider contacting the nursing home neglect attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook for help. With over 75 years of combined legal experience, we are fully prepared to investigate the situation and advise you of your family’s options.

To start talking about your concerns in a free, completely confidential case assessment, call our law offices right away at (405) 698-3040. You could be saving a life.