When people in New York talk about nursing home neglect, they typically discuss bedsores, poor nutrition and falls. However, facilities with inadequately trained staff may have another problem that rarely makes it into the media: altercations between residents. Any group of people who live in close quarters may find themselves at odds from time to time, but the medical and mental issues many nursing home residents suffer from often exacerbate the problems.
In a study conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, those who live in nursing homes face a high risk of elder mistreatment from their peers. The data was gathered by questionnaire, observation and staff reports from 10 nursing homes in New York.
The results of the research indicated that one in five residents experienced some form of hostile or inappropriate behaviors, including the following:
- Invasion of privacy
- Kicking, biting or hitting
- Screaming or cursing
- Sexual incidents
Perhaps surprisingly, it is often younger residents who are the perpetrators. Although they tend to have some loss of cognitive or physical function, they are typically more mobile than their older peers. CNA HealthPro points out that the onset of dementia, illness or a history of substance abuse is often warning signs that a nursing home resident may become aggressive.
Eliminating this significant threat to residents should be a top priority for all nursing home facilities. Experts recommend implementing policies and procedures for dealing with resident hostility, which can empower workers and lower the risk of physical or verbally abusive altercations.