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Resident-to-Resident Abuse is a Growing Concern in Nursing Homes

Recent studies show that at least 20 percent of nursing home residents experience verbal or physical abuse from other residents. Illinois nursing home injuries caused by staff and other residents are a common problem seen by a Lake County nursing home abuse lawyer.

Surveillance Studies

The Center for Aging Research and Clinical Care at Cornell Medicine in New York recently conducted a one month surveillance in 10 New York State nursing homes. More than 2,000 residents participated in the study. The study focused on all uninvited behaviors that had the potential to lead to physical or psychological harm. The surveillance study revealed resident-to-resident mistreatment that encompassed a variety of concerning behaviors:

  • Rifling through and/or stealing another resident’s belongings
  • Taking food off another resident’s plate
  • Running into or over another resident with a wheelchair
  • Verbal abuse and name-calling
  • Physical and/or sexual assault

During the month-long surveillance study, resident-to-resident mistreatment was tracked with video cameras, interviews with staff and residents, resident chart reviews, and accident or injury reports. Out of the 2050 residents that participated in the study, over 400 reported that they experienced at least one instance of abuse during the month. According to resident reports, three-quarters of the incidents were verbal and one-quarter were physical. Although the study took place in New York, nursing home abuse is a common cause of elderly injuries seen by a Lake County nursing home abuse lawyer. To prevent Illinois injuries, a new law went into effect on January 1, 2016 that allows nursing home residents to have electronic monitoring in their rooms.

Preventing Nursing Home Abuse

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Physicians and clinical psychologists who deal with nursing home residents and abuse incidents suggest that simple changes to improve lighting and reduce noise can reduce aggravated behaviors in residents, especially in dementia patients. They also recommend teaching nurses and aides to respond to yelling, commonly heard in nursing home wings where dementia patients reside, instead of ignoring it.

According to a Lake County nursing home abuse lawyer, dementia patients often fall victim to nursing home abuse and neglect in Illinois. To reduce aggressive resident-to-resident behaviors, Alzheimer’s Association experts recommend limiting distractions like blinking or flashing lights, televisions, loud music, and large crowds in residents’ surroundings. Experts say that offering relaxing activities, soothing music, and switching activities when aggression begins can help defuse anger.

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