Elder Abuse: Racial Disparities Among African Americans In Long Term Care

Think back to those early Saturday mornings when you would stay with your grandparents and you would be woken up by the sound of Blues music, breakfast in the air, and your forthcoming chores of cleaning up… Your grandparents took good care of you… But now that they’re in their later stages of life, you’d give anything to bring back even a fraction of that nostalgia.

Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you keep living… you get older. And the ones that once took care of you, you’re now taking care of them.

In the black community, reverence toward your elders is something most black families live by, therefore, the thought of having to put a loved one in a long-term care facility is heartbreaking, and almost one of those things you “just don’t talk about.” 

Now, some families are able to take care of their loved ones by temporarily moving in with them or having their loved ones move in with their family, but that’s not always the case… Sometimes, due to various reasons, the only option is to turn to long-term care facilities.

The thing about long-term care facilities is that they’re not the end of the world for your loved ones or you, if you’re considering a facility. But you also have every right to be concerned about making such a decision due to the astounding statistics of nursing home abuse.

Racial Disparities You May Not Know About

According to, a WHO study revealed that nearly 1 out of 3 nursing home staff members admitted to abusing residents emotionally. The Nursing Home Abuse Guide states that elderly African American residents are twice as likely to experience psychological abuse and to have money stolen from them.

In addition to that, it’s more common for minorities to reside in nursing homes with very limited resources and funding and to be deficient in state surveys. For a nursing home to be considered as “deficient,” that means that the facility failed to meet state regulations in the areas of number of staff members, resident census, health and safety procedures, infection control, and frequency of bedsores among residents, to name a few.

With those survey areas, another study revealed that nursing homes with a census of a sizeable minority population were the ones with the highest number of deficiencies by a little over nine percent, particularly in the area of bedsores. Nursing homes with a higher Caucasian population had a lower deficiency level of slightly over six percent. So what does that mean? It means that there are indeed racial disparities among African Americans in long-term care facilities.

Signs of Elder Abuse to Look For

If you’re someone who is facing the difficult decision of whether or not to put a loved one in a nursing home, you probably have all kinds of thoughts running through your mind as to what to expect and if your loved one will get the right care. Well, a large part of knowing if they’re receiving the right care is knowing the tell-tale signs of abuse.

Here are a few signs to be cognizant of:

● Frequent UTIs and Confusion: If your loved one is frequently experiencing UTIs and seems to be confused more often than not, there’s a very high chance that your loved one is dehydrated, which means they haven’t consumed enough water. Nursing home facilities are supposed to do hydration passes every few hours to ensure residents are getting hydrated. This sign would be of great concern to you.

● Bedsores: The frequency of bedsores (or pressure ulcers) and their slow healing is a sign of neglect that the nursing staff isn’t turning your loved one as often as they should, especially since bedsores are formed from constant pressure on a particular area of the skin.

● Body Odor: Nursing homes typically have bathing schedules because, in most cases, the nursing staff isn’t able to bathe every resident every day, but they should be bathed at least every other day. So if you notice your loved one constantly having an odor, there is definitely some neglect going on. 

● Unexplained Bruising: Whenever you come to visit your loved one, do your own examination of them. Check out their arms, legs, and other exposed areas to determine if physical abuse has occurred.

All of this may be a lot to take in, and there’s never really a good time to have this conversation or even think about it. But it’s a reality that many people face when choosing the right path in caring for their loved ones. Knowing the signs and staying informed is going to make the process a little better because you’ll be able to make an informed decision

Abuse is Abuse, No Matter the Color of Skin

At the end of the day, the mistreatment of a human being is abuse, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or origin but statistics show the racial disparities, and it’s something you just can’t ignore. 

By knowing the signs of elder abuse, you now know exactly what to look for in your loved one. If you recognize any of these signs, you need to contact a lawyer that specializes in elder abuse cases that will fight for your loved one.

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