Many of the nation’s senior citizens, already at an elevated risk of violent or property crimes due to their advanced age, are also finding themselves being victimized while in the care of many senior care facilities. The culprit? These organization’s often-lax or non-existent security standards.
Consider some recent examples where the elderly found themselves targeted in retirement and nursing homes with no means of protection or escape:
- On November 21, 2018, a woman shot and killed her mother and sister at a retirement community near Nashville, Tennessee, before taking her own life.
- On July 27, 2018, a gunman fatally shot his father and step-mother at a nursing home near Corpus Christi, Texas, before turning the gun on himself.
- On December 3, 2017, a man walked into a Jewish nursing home in New York City and assaulted an elderly resident while yelling anti-Semitic slurs.
Three Big Risks
According to a recent report by the IAHSS Foundation, the residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, and similar elder care organizations face three primary threats from outsiders:
- Assault – Visitors, sometimes emotionally charged during a visit or merely wandering the premises, have been known to physically or sexually assault residents (and staff)
- Property Theft – Because these facilities play host to large numbers of outside visitors (family, friends, etc.) residents are at risk of having personal property stolen
- Armed Intrusion – Due to physical and/or cognitive impairment, the traditional response of Run, Hide, Fight rarely applies, leaving residents particularly vulnerable to these threats
IAHHS and other organizations are on record encouraging the nation’s growing population of elder care facilities to adopt threat mitigation, access control, remote detection and monitoring solutions to protect those under their care.
“It is imperative that facility administrators and those that are responsible for security, recognize the threats and vulnerabilities associated with these facilities and ensure proper prevention and mitigation steps are in place,” concludes Dean Conner, author of the IAHHS report.
The need for improved elder care security is particularly important because of the significant demographic changes sweeping the nation.
Growing Number of Elderly and Care Facilities
According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. is home approximately 1,347,600 nursing home residents, 811,500 residential care community residents, and 286,300 participants in adult day services centers. In 2015 alone, approximately 4,455,700 patients were discharged from home health care agencies, and 1,426,000 patients received hospice care.
Over 1.5 million nurses, health professionals, and social workers are employed in this sector of our economy, and the demand for these jobs is projected to increase along with the share of older Americans (Boomers are retiring en masse now).
What’s most notable here, is a U.S. Census Bureau estimate that the number of Americans ages 65 or older is projected to reach 87.9 million by 2050, representing 22% of the nation’s overall population.
This massive demographic shift not only will increase demand for senior care facilities and the staff to work and manage them, but also improved levels of security to ensure the nation’s elderly are able to live without the threat of violence in the places they call home.