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Study looks at rates of abuse between residents in nursing homes

According to a new study conducted by a New York geriatrics doctor, at least 20 percent of nursing home residents experiences verbal or physical abuse from a roommate. The study looked at data from 2,011 residents and noticed that over 407 had experienced abuse during the month-long period over which the study was conducted.

In many cases—about 45 percent—the abuse was verbal in nature, but over a quarter of the incidents involved physical assaults such as hitting or pushing another resident. About 20 percent of the incidents involved invasion of privacy. Four percent of cases involved gestures and facial expressions, and less than three percent of cases involved sexual abuse. 

According to the doctor who headed the research, many incidents of abuse can be traced back to the challenges of having dementia or other neurodegenerative conditions which make it more difficult to live with others, particularly who residents who have become accustomed to living on their own. Such conditions often involve memory loss, cognitive issues and behavioral problems that escalate and lead to a crisis.

For nursing home staff, managing residents with dementia, mental health issues and behavioral problems is necessary to ensure the safety of other residents and to maintain the peace and order of the nursing home unit. Unfortunately, nursing home staff members are not always adequately trained in how to address such issues, and this can compromise the safety of other residents. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue and what recourse might be available for residents who are harmed by another resident due to the negligence of nursing home staff. 

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