The low quality treatment senior citizen residents receive in most nursing homes, globally, is a major issue that needs to be resolved now.  It is devastating to witness neglect, depression and loneliness all due to the appalling care.  Would you want to be treated like dirt? Just because residents living in nursing homes are elderly, does not mean by any stretch, that they should be treated any different than the rest of us.

The Kaiser Study, based on an analysis of star ratings (one to five) in the Nursing Home Compare database, finds 1/3 of counties have ratings with fewer to no stars (23%). The statistics prove the cause of why residents are treated the way they are treated. [1]

“This is no way to live. I wish I were dead and buried.” – A 76-year-old man who died weighing 69 pounds, 54% less than his ideal weight of 150 lbs.  This quote relates to underweight and malnourished residents due to poor staff quality care.  Studies that use a wide range of tests were performed over the last five years on different nursing home subgroups have shown that from 35% – 85% of U.S. nursing home residents are malnourished and 30% – 50% are substandard in body weight. The consequences of these conditions for elderly nursing home residents are extremely serious. “Structural factors within the nursing home setting that contribute to malnutrition and dehydration include lack of individualized care, inadequate staffing, high nurse aide turnover, and lack of professional supervision of aides. Nursing homes are often poorly staffed. The lack of supervisory licensed nurses, as well as their lack of nutritional knowledge, leaves CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) to do the best they can without appropriate help from professionals. [2]

I volunteer two hours a week at a nursing home and sadly witness a type of neglect amongst staff towards the residents.  I become the advocate – If nursing home care is not an issue, I would not have to be concerned about the patient’s life. They rely on staff, and if the staff are not willing to care for the patients, then there is no one.

I encourage students to help out in our community and beyond because there are always volunteer opportunities. Even helping out with small tasks can make a real difference in the lives of senior citizens in need. I believe that there is always something that we are able to contribute. This is a big problem that should take action now to prevent further issues caused such as this. Just because the residents are old, does not mean they do not have feelings. They want to be happy and to live their life with a positive memory. It is so crucial and important to respect the residents. After all, “I matter, you matter, we all matter.”

— Chloe Riven, Student, Harwood Union High School, Vermont

[1] http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/reading-the-stars-nursing-home-quality-star-ratings-nationally-and-by-state/

[2] http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/malnutrition.pdf