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Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

While it might come as a surprise…

Perpetrators of elder abuse in nursing homes are not always those employed by the facility. In a recent article published in HealthDay, many residents of nursing homes suffer from abuse at the hands of other residents. The article cites a study that concluded that “one in five nursing home residents had been involved in an incident with a fellow resident within the past month.” Most of these “incidents” were verbal altercations that did not involve acts of physical violence. The article further explains that “some seniors were involved in physical scuffles, and some experienced inappropriate sexual behavior.”

Elder Abuse In Nursing Homes Is Not Openly Discussed

How does abuse of the elderly at the hands of other residents occur? According to Dr. Gibbs, the chief of gerontology and geriatrics at the University of California, Irvine, one of the main issues is that elder mistreatment of this variety is not discussed enough. Dr. Gibbs believes the new study presents findings that “we need to be talking about.” In her professional opinion, she states, “We’ve worked on areas like reducing medical errors, and preventing falls and pressure sores . . . But we can also reduce the prevalence of this kind of mistreatment.”

How should skilled nursing facilities handle those residents that may be likely to start an altercation? It is suggested that facility administration should “identify residents who seem to be having issues with each other and limit their interactions.” This is not all a nursing home can and should do to prevent these types of serious injuries. The mental health of its residents should also be evaluated and action taken if a resident of the facility is struggling. Nursing home staff should receive specialized training that allows them to recognize a potentially dangerous situation between residents and to effective intervention strategies developed.

A lack of intervention by staff could actually be a sign of nursing home neglect. Elder abuse in nursing homes perpetrated by other residents is a problem that affects more elderly individuals than you may realize. If you believe that someone you love might be suffering from elder abuse in a nursing home, report your suspicions to your local law enforcement agency and Adult Protective Services. It is also in the best interest of the person you suspect is being abused to contact an elder abuse attorney.

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