But a new government report finds that serious complaints often go uninvestigated for weeks or months, subjecting the elderly to continued abuse and neglect.
The report by the general accounting office reviewed complaint investigations in 14 states and found procedures that limit or discourage the filing of complaints.
The seriousness of complaints was often understated and serious complaints were often not investigated promptly.
Denise Bryant told a congressional panel that her aunt died after her head got caught between her mattress and bed rails in a nursing home.
When Bryant complained to state authorities, she got the brush-off.
Â"The investigator told me she found nothing wrong with my auntÂ's death and rejected my many other written concerns about neglect. I call it a drive-by investigation,Â" Bryant said.
The federal agency that oversees how states handle complaints insists things are getting better, not worse. States get about $42 million a year in federal money to pay for investigations.
The bottom line is that there seem to be more complaints than money.