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Nursing home’s resident-on-resident abuse

dementiaNursing home abuse doesn’t necessarily relate to abuse committed by staff members on residents. Sometimes nursing home residents can be abused by other residents as well. In a recent article in the Buffalo News, Melinda Miller looks at a study from from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City that that surveyed 2,000 nursing home residents in 10 randomly chosen nursing homes in New York State and interviews with several elder care specialists about this problem.

According to the study, every month, 1 out of 5 residents in New York nursing homes experiences some form of aggression from another resident. Most of the time the aggression is only verbal such as screaming or cursing but sometimes anger leads to physical assault and residents may be hit, kicked or bitten. Sexual assault is also an issue with some residents exposing their genitals or making unwanted sexual advances. Instances of scratching, spitting and throwing things are also mentioned in the study.

In nursing homes, it is common to see confused residents entering other residents’rooms and going through other resident’s belonging. This type of behaviors can be the starting point of further violence. In the article, the director of an Elder Clinic in New York State, explains how her confused mother went into the room of another resident who then got upset and pushed her. She fell and broke her wrist.

Because  many elderly people are suffering from dementia or confusion it is difficult for nursing homes to address resident on resident abuse, however nursing homes that had the most cases of violence shared similar characteristics:

  • They were more crowded and understaffed.
  • The staff often considers this type of violence “normal” and doesn’t really look for solutions to solve ongoing conflicts between residents.

Researchers  interviewed in the article believe the staff attitude can really make a difference in preventing conflicts and that one of the best ways to reduce aggressiveness is to keep nursing home residents busy with various activities.