March 13, 2013
Across the nation, nursing home abuse and neglect continues to be a problem. In Kentucky, the the FIVCO Long Term Care Ombudsman Program along with the Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, is creating campaigns in order to raise public awareness of how devastating the effects of elder and disabled abuse can be.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21.1% of the nation’s population was over 62 years of age in 2010, and is expected to grow. Angela Rigsby, the district ombudsman in Kentucky, states that bringing more awareness to the issue of abuse now will help prevent it from happening even more as the elder population grows:
“We’re trying to get some public interest and find some people to help us fund some public awareness initiatives we want to take. We need to get elder abuse where it is as talked about like domestic violence and child abuse,” Rigsby said.
Rigsby also states that loved ones should always look out for the warning signs that an elderly person is being abused:
“If you try to visit an elderly person and they are always asleep or in the bathroom, or gone, and you aren’t allowed to see them, that can be a sign that they are being physically abused and have indications of that the abuser doesn’t want anyone to see,” said Rigsby.
The mission of awareness will not only be about nursing home abuse, but about anyone who comes in contact with the elderly, whether at their homes, through the Meals on Wheels service, volunteers, neighbors, and ambulance drivers.
The first meeting to raise awareness will be held on March 21 in the Boyd County Fiscal Courtroom where social workers, health care providers, law enforcement, and other concerned citizens will meet to discuss ways to raise awareness. Another meeting is scheduled for April 15 at the Ashland Rotary Club, where Rigsby hopes speakers will be able to educate the club members on the frequency of nursing home and elder abuse.
Another key point that loved ones may not be aware of in Kentucky is that they have the right, along with nursing home abuse victims, to retain the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer and file for damages, even if the incident seems minor.