Report Shows Unlikely Source of Nursing Home Abuse
Nearly 20 percent of nursing home residents in the U.S. experience verbal or physical mistreatment in the hands of fellow residents, a new study has found. According to a CBS News report, the study conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for Aging Research and Clinical Care, showed that it is disturbingly common for elderly residents who live in nursing homes to experience such abuse from other residents. Researchers conducted month-long surveillance in 10 urban and suburban nursing homes in New York State. More than 2,000 residents participated in the study.
What the Report Found
The study, the first of its kind looking at resident-on-resident abuse, found that the mistreatment covered a range of behaviors from acts such as rifling through others’ belongings to taking food off someone’s plate. In extreme cases, there were incidents of physical violence and sexual assault. The study included any type of “unwelcome” behavior that had the potential to lead to physical or emotional distress. Researchers said about 75 percent of the abuse was verbal and 25 percent, physical.
What Can We Learn from this Study?
It is indeed shocking to learn that so much abusive behavior occurs between resident. In the past, our California nursing home lawyers have seen many examples of staff members abusing residents. But resident-on-resident abuse is alarming. It certainly needs greater attention. Each year, about 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse, as many as 23 cases go unreported.
With more and more patients with dementia entering our nursing homes, it is critical for staff and administrators to keep better track of patients. They need to look into solutions such as safer public and private spaces in dementia units that could help reduce or eliminate this type of mistreatment.
Staff members also need to be sensitive to what can aggravate dementia or Alzheimer’s patients and what can help soothe them. Under no circumstances is physical force or chemical restraint acceptable. Nursing homes need to come up with creative solutions to deal with these problems. But as long as nursing homes are understaffed and the profit motive reigns supreme in the “nursing home industry,” we will only see such problems multiply.