An aging population in New Mexico and nationwide means that society will have to make elder care a priority. By 2050, demographers predict that 88 million people will be over age 65. That figure represents a doubling of the current elderly population. Caring for the elderly has always posed challenges, and the nursing home industry has long been prone to corruption and abuse. The prospects do not look good for the future.

Home health aids continue to be among the lowest-paid workers despite the ever-increasing demand for people to care for the elderly. Over the previous decade, the ranks of home health aids doubled to 2.2 million workers. Their wages rarely exceed $10 per hour, which leaves employers with few ways to attract quality employees.

Despite a largely low-paid work force, nursing homes have to care for people with very complex health problems, like Alzheimer’s disease. This situation has led to many cases of neglect or abuse. During recent hearings on the topic in the U.S. Senate, testimony revealed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave a nursing home high marks for quality care only one year after it paid fines for physical and verbal abuse of residents.

Vulnerable nursing home residents typically rely on their family members to detect and report abuse or neglect. A person who needs to address mistreatment of an elderly loved one could seek legal representation. An attorney may help with removing a person from a dangerous situation and organizing evidence about nursing home abuse. A concerned relative might explore with an attorney the option of filing a lawsuit to hold the facility responsible for injuries, sexual assault, neglect, death, financial exploitation or psychological abuse. When necessary, an attorney may manage the process of making a criminal complaint to authorities.