We tend to think of a nursing home's staff members as the culprits
when we hear about
nursing home abuse and neglect. However, a new study finds that abusive behavior
among elderly nursing home residents is actually widespread.
What is purported to be the first study of aggression among residents of
U.S. nursing homes has found that almost one in five people who live in
long-term care facilities are involved in at least one aggressive encounter
every four weeks.
Study Identifies Different Types of Resident-on-Resident Abuse
Researchers at the Cornell University-Weill Cornell Medical College studied
10 nursing homes across New York State. The survey involved 2,000 residents
and included staff interviews and reports, direct observation and a research-based
questionnaire taken by residents and staff, according to the
Specific types of resident-to-resident mistreatment identified by researchers included:
Verbal incidents such as cursing, screaming or yelling at another person (16 percent)
Physical incidents such as hitting, kicking or biting (5.7 percent)
Sexual incidents such as exposing one's genitals, touching other residents or attempting
to gain sexual favors (1.3 percent).
Unwelcome entry into another resident's room or going through another resident's
possessions (10.5 percent).
"These altercations are widespread and common in everyday nursing
home life," said Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the
College of Human Ecology's Department of Human Development, who also
serves on the Weill Cornell faculty.
"Despite the acute urgency of the problem, resident-to-resident mistreatment
is underreported. Increased awareness and the adoption of effective interventions
are greatly needed," he said.
Nursing home residents who typically engage in abuse of fellow residents
are comparatively younger, somewhat cognitively disabled but physically
capable of moving around the facility, Pillemer told a gerontology conference,
where the study was initially presented, according to the Chronicle.
"Often, their underlying dementia or mood disorder can manifest as
verbally or physically aggressive behavior," he said. "It's
no surprise that these individuals are more likely to partake in arguments,
shouting matches, and pushing and shoving, particularly in such close,
Study Should Bring Attention to Growing Problem in Nursing Homes
There are almost 1.4 million nursing home residents in the U.S., with more
than 72,000 of them in Florida, the
Herald-Tribune of Sarasota states in its report about the study.
Crowded conditions, ongoing conflicts between roommates and nursing home
staffing levels may contribute to the incidence of elder-to-elder abuse.
"The amount of residents each staff member has to care for relates
to the rate of abuse," Pillemer said.
WBUR of Boston points out in its report about the Cornell study, abuse and mistreatment
of the elderly in general - in their homes and in nursing facilities -
is a serious and growing problem.
For instance, one survey of certified nursing assistants in nursing homes
found that 17 percent of CNAs had physically abused residents, 51 percent
had yelled at them and 23 percent had insulted or sworn at them.
According to the Herald-Tribune, Pillemer said that collecting data is
the "first step toward bringing attention to this under-the-radar
reality that too many facility operators view as business as usual."
The Maher Law Firm assists individuals and families affected by nursing
home abuse. If you believe a loved one of yours has been treated improperly
in a Florida nursing home, assisted care facility or while under other
residential care, please
contact us. We can discuss your case and your options in a free legal consultation.