For many New Mexico families, elder abuse continues to be a major concern about the well-being of their loved ones. In 2010, the Elder Justice Act was approved by Congress, but elder abuse continues to be a significant concern. For years before the law was passed, advocates emphasized the threat presented by physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of elderly people, highlighting the similarity to cases of domestic violence and child abuse. Despite the adoption of the law, however, elder abuse prevention has remained an underserved area of responsibility.

Only 10% of the authorized funding has so far gone to the programs under the Elder Justice Act, especially in terms of dedicated funding for adult protective services agencies nationwide. Other programs have never been funded or implemented. Despite the existence of legislation on the topic, elder abuse remains a largely ignored area. Many people still do not believe it is a serious problem. There is little data to back up assertions, although the Justice Department says that financial abuse of elders costs $3 billion each year. Abuse allegations, especially in institutions like nursing homes, still receive little attention.

One nursing home previously received a 5-star rating from the federal government, but it was revealed to be an abusive institution. One patient died of dehydration caused by neglect. Nursing homes may get little attention, but elders’ lives may be at risk in these facilities. Nursing home residents may have dementia or other illnesses that prevent them from speaking about their situations.

If people discover that their elderly relatives are being neglected in a nursing home, they may want to take action to bring the problem to an end. An elder law attorney can help victims to seek compensation for the damages suffered due to nursing home abuse.