People in New Mexico who are researching nursing homes for their loved ones will soon have an easier way to learn about violations related to abuse, neglect or exploitation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the process of updating Nursing Home Compare's website to include an icon next to facilities with reported violations. This website tracks performance for all U.S. nursing homes certified to collect Medicare or Medicaid benefits.
Many nursing homes in New Mexico and across the U.S. are the subject of complaints regarding the quality of elder care. Residents of these homes may be neglected, abused or financially manipulated. The condition of many homes can even be unsanitary. One auditor in Massachusetts has found that many complaints linked to nursing homes are not being investigated as promptly as they should be.
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.
Nursing home residents in New Mexico are supposed to have their needs met by a professional staff. However, some facilities here and in other states are seriously lacking in that capacity. For example, a 91-year-old woman was actively taunted by staff members at The Abington of Glenview Nursing & Rehab Center in Chicago. The staff recorded a video of a hospital gown being presented to the resident who had dementia. This occurred even though they knew the woman didn't like gowns.
It can be difficult when a family in New Mexico decides that a loved one needs the care and supervision a nursing home is supposed to provide. Inevitable concerns will arise. One factor that few consider is that the facility will be negligent or outright abusive. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse does happen, and it can cause injury and death.
Many New Mexico residents agonize over the decision to employ a nursing home to care for an elderly or disabled relative. However, it is likely that their houses or apartments are equipped with the resources to provide for people who need serious care, especially if memory or other cognitive issues are involved.
According to three reports, there are significant problems with the care patients receive in some hospices and nursing homes in New Mexico and the rest of the country. Hundreds of health care providers are providing inadequate and dangerous care that is being concealed from consumers. It is also important to note that there is a lack of state and federal resources to take action.
New Mexico is one of several states that require senior living facilities to install cameras if residents request it. A dozen more states are considering whether or not they should pass similar laws. One state, New Jersey, has a program that loans video monitoring equipment to residents and their family members. While there is controversy surrounding the use of cameras in these settings, there is currently no federal law banning it.
As the baby boomer population ages, more and more New Mexico families have difficult decisions to make. Whether one spouse is struggling to provide the necessary care for his or her mate or it is impractical to care for an elderly parent, some form of outside care is a likely choice. Depending on the level of needs of the individual and the financial resources of the family, residence in an elder care facility or some form of home health assistance are possible options. Unfortunately, neither choice ensures safety from the scourge of elder abuse.
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.