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Research: Some Nursing Home Residents Are Abused by Other Residents

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Many elderly people in the country suffer from abuse every year. Some nursing home residents are abused by other residents.

In recent years, much attention has been given to the subject of nursing home abuse. It is true that many nursing home residents in New York and elsewhere are mistreated or neglected by staff. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, up to 10 percent of senior citizens were reportedly abused in the past year, often by caregivers. However, there are other ways that residents in nursing homes may suffer from abuse. These incidents are not widely known but are said to occur more frequently than people might realize.

Emotional and physical abuse by other residents

People in any community may not always get along, and senior living communities are no exception. Certain types of age-related conditions may also exacerbate a negative situation. According to CBS News, a study recently released by New York’s Weill Cornell Medicine showed that a disturbing number of nursing home residents surveyed claimed to have been abused by other residents at the facilities where they lived. The study covered about 2,000 residents in 10 nursing homes throughout New York. Participants said they had been subjected to the following incidents by their fellow residents:

  • Shouting, insults and other forms of verbal abuse
  • Having their personal belongings gone through in their own rooms
  • Having food taken from them without their permission
  • Being attacked with a wheelchair

Additionally, some residents said they were the victims of physical or sexual assaults by other residents. Some were at risk of being seriously injured by these types of attacks.

Dementia may be one cause of abuse

While it is true that some nursing home residents may instigate various forms of abuse simply because they are unpleasant or abusive people, there may be a medical explanation for some instances of abuse or harassment in nursing homes. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can have detrimental effects on a sufferer’s moods, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. For example, the following symptoms associated with dementia could result in someone else being abused or harassed:

  • Memory, concentration and communication difficulties
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with judgment and reasoning

Medical experts say that changes in lighting and noise might reduce stress and aggravation for some dementia patients. It might also help to address privacy issues with residents’ rooms, overcrowding in nursing homes and public areas where residents can feel safe.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living states that every year in the country, hundreds of thousands of elderly people suffer from neglect, abuse or exploitation. Nursing home staff is responsible for giving residents a comfortable, safe place to spend their final years. If a loved one is harmed in a nursing home through the actions of another, it may help to contact an experienced New York City personal injury attorney.

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