Ageism is one of the pervasive prejudices throughout all human society. The stereotyping and the tendency to discriminate people on the basis of their age is called ageism. Coined in 1971, ageism is a practice that may be casual or systematic in nature. Ageism may come in several different forms around the globe, but it can often lead to elder mistreatment, elder abuse, manipulation, and denial of proper services. These behaviors are often most prevalent in institutions. Despite the fact that many seniors today are able to swim long distances, run miles, and perform other feats of great strength, there are persistent stereotypes about what it means to age in America. The concept of aging calls to mind drooling, a need for diapers, slow thoughts and movements, and rocking chairs for many people, and these thoughts contribute to ageism. There are numerous stereotypes about the elderly out there that are simply not true. The way we view the aging process may very well influence how we age. Research has linked negative perceptions of aging in people over the age of 50 with an average 7.5-year decrease in life span. That link could have a huge impact on our population. In 2010, people over age 65 comprised some 13 percent of the U.S. population. That's about 40 million Americans, a number expected to increase to 55 million by 2020. And the number of people ages 85 and older will increase from 5.7 million to 6.6 million over the same period. *Erdman Palmore, a professor emeritus...

Sudden weight loss in nursing home residents can sometimes be a cause for concern and sadly, this problem is very prevalent in nursing homes. Nursing facility residents often have chronic diseases and functional impairments that impair proper nutrition and hydration and require interventions by facility staff. Elderly individuals with weight loss are at higher risk for functional decline, hip fractures, and mortality. Consequences of weight loss also may include: muscle wasting, infections, and increased risk of pressure ulcers. Detecting and preventing weight loss is essential to ensure appropriate nutritional intake for a resident. Often times, a rapid decline in body weight can be a sign of abuse or neglect. Understaffing- A Key Cause of Abuse and Neglect Many, if not the majority of nursing homes are severely understaffed. Nurse aides just don’t have the time to feed the residents properly or verify nutrition. Those who are taking the time to feed residents may be doing so distracted, like watching television during mealtimes. There are many factors that influence nutrition problems in the elderly, including: Cognitive impairments, causing them to forget to eat Lack of financial resources Physical limitations that interfere with food preparation Deterioration of taste and smell senses Social isolation and boredom, generating a lack of interest in eating Reduction of gastric secretion that accompanies aging and causes problems with digestion Additional Impacts of Weight Loss Sudden changes in weight can also influence a resident’s medical and mental status. Proper nutrition is essential for prevention of problems like bed ulcers, dehydration, malnutrition, or poor...

Although there are legitimate situations where hospitals and nursing homes use feeding tubes, doing so for a patient with advanced cognitive issues can amplify medical and emotional problems for that individual. In too many situations, feeding tube decisions are made based on financial rather than patient care factors. Statistically, for-profit hospitals are more likely to use feeding tubes, as are larger hospitals and those with the highest level of intensive care unit use for patients in their last six months of life. Likewise, for-profit nursing homes, which make up 80 percent of the country’s nursing homes, are more likely to encourage families to get feeding tubes for their elders. Nursing homes and hospitals together have a strong financial incentive to handle dementia patients through percutaneous gastrostomy tubes rather than to feed those patients by hand. Hand-feeding requires individually trained staff to carry it out, and staffing shortages are a nationwide concern for nursing homes. The majority of the patients who are assigned feeding tubes have already been in the nursing home for some time, usually having exhausted their wealth enough to meet Medicaid qualifications. Most are “dual-eligible”, meaning that they qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. Even minor infections can trigger a hospital visit for a nursing home patient. After the hospital visit, the patient becomes eligible for skilled nursing facility services for up to 100 days. This enables the nursing home to be paid roughly three to four times what they would have received from the patient’s Medicaid reimbursement alone. A recent Wall...