A new study found that one in five nursing home residents (19.8%) had been involved in “mistreatment” between nursing home residents during a four-week period in 10 randomly selected nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities (SNF)) in New York State. The residents identified as having been subject to mistreatment included both the victims and the perpetrators of mistreatment.
The mistreatment included verbal abuse (cursing, screaming, or yelling) (16% of the residents); unwelcome entry into another resident’s room or going through another resident’s possessions (10.5% of the residents); physical incidents such as hitting, kicking, or biting (5.7% of the residents); and, sexual incidents such as exposing genitals, touching other residents, or attempting to gain sexual favors (1.3% of the residents).
The study also found that the residents who were most likely to engage in mistreatment of other residents were younger, less cognitively impaired, less physically impaired, and were prone to disruptive behavior. Latino residents and non-Latino white residents were more likely to be involved with incidents of resident-on-resident mistreatment than African American residents; however, the study found no significant difference between male and female residents.
A co-author of the study stated, “This is the first study to directly observe and interview residents to determine the prevalence and predictors of elder mistreatment between residents in nursing homes. The findings suggest that these altercations are widespread and common in everyday nursing home life. Despite the acute urgency of the problem, resident-to-resident mistreatment is under-reported. Increased awareness and the adoption of effective interventions are greatly needed … People who typically engage in resident-on-resident abuse are somewhat cognitively disabled but physically capable of moving around the facility. Often, their underlying dementia or mood disorder can manifest as verbally or physically aggressive behavior. It’s no surprise that these individuals are more likely to partake in arguments, shouting matches, and pushing and shoving, particularly in such close, crowded quarters.”
Nursing home residents must be protected from mistreatment by others, including other residents. Many elderly nursing home residents who are admitted into SNFs are not used to living with strangers. Living in a new environment with others who may be of many different backgrounds will be challenging for many new nursing home residents who must adopt to their new surroundings. The constant fear of being mistreated must weigh very heavy on all nursing home residents who have experienced mistreatment by other residents or by staff. The incidence of resident on resident mistreatment in nursing homes is widely believed to be under-reported and to be a significant problem nationwide.
If you or a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect, nursing home abuse, or nursing home mistreatment in the United States that resulted in injuries or other serious harms, you should promptly contact a local nursing home lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you in a claim against a nursing home, if appropriate.
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