In a cohort already among society’s most vulnerable to abuse and neglect, disabled patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are even more susceptible to harm.
It is a problem that is hidden in plain sight, causing further grief to victims’ families, abetted by a lack of public awareness and sustained interest. A simple Google search on the abuse of disabled patients in nursing homes turns up few studies or widespread media attention.
Anyone who cannot carry out life functions for themselves is dependent on others, and thus in a position of vulnerability. A broad collection of long-term care residents could qualify as “disabled,” and many more will become so as they age. According to one study, some 68% of nursing home residents have a lifetime probability of becoming physically or cognitively impaired in at least two activities of daily living. These patients may suffer increased physical ailments or develop cognitive diseases such as dementia.