When people hear about nursing home abuse, they usually think about staff taking advantage of their residents. Families that place their loved ones in nursing homes are usually keeping an eye out for their loved one and making sure that they’re being cared for and they’re enjoying their home. What people may not think about is other residents.
Resident-on-resident abuse is an issue in many nursing homes. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is understudied so there isn’t a lot of data reporting cases of resident-on-resident nursing home abuse. If you think your loved one has been a victim or nursing home abuse, you can seek legal aid. A Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyer from Urban & Taylor can help get your loved one justice.
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care gave a webinar in 2016 about the issue of resident-on-resident abuse in nursing homes. They quoted the 2013 National Ombudsman Reporting Data about this issue. Ombudsmen advocate for the rights of residents in nursing homes. Their data showed that there were about 5,235 resident conflicts that year. The National Center Elder Abuse (NCEA) found that this abuse is recognized as a problem in long-term care facilities, but still needs more research.
Because senior residents are more frail, minor injuries can have major impacts. Falling can lead to broken bones and infection.
Resident-on-resident abuse is understudied because there is more focus on abuse from staff and issues with behavior from dementia patients. This type of abuse damages the nursing home and demoralizes the staff if they feel that they can’t control the problem. While there are methods for aggressive behaviors, there isn’t a lot of techniques for how to handle resident-on-resident abuse.
You may be wondering why nursing home residents would abuse others. About 80 percent of residents typically are cognitively impaired and about 40-60 percent have aggression and agitation. Residents may not be completely aware of their actions.
What Are the Signs of Abuse in Nursing Homes?
How do you keep an eye out for abuse in nursing homes? Abuse can be physical and emotional, or both. The NCEA lists some common symptoms that show these kinds of abuse.
- Physical Abuse. When looking for signs of physical abuse, check for injuries like bruises or broken bones, or if you see any cuts or wounds. Sudden changes in sleep and chronic physical pain can be signs of physical abuse as well. While elderly people are more prone to bruising, like if they accidentally bump into something, repetitive and unexplained injuries are suspect. When resident experience this kind of abuse, their risk of death rises 300 percent higher than those who are not abused.
- Emotional Abuse. This kind of abuse can trigger mental illness, like depression and anxiety. Emotional abuse contributes to major declines in mental health. Changes in mood, personality, and acting uncharacteristically fearful could indicate that someone is emotionally abusing them.
If you notice these things, your loved one may not feel comfortable speaking about them with you. But you can get the staff involved. Inform them of what’s happening and say that you want your loved one to be taken care of properly and safe. If they’re aware that another resident is hurting them, they could keep a watchful eye out as well and potentially find the abuser and stop them.