Nursing Home Residents May Be Both Victims and Perpetrators of Elder Abuse

2016-06 man hallwayTraditional efforts to prevent nursing home abuse have focused on the nursing staff. Lawmakers have considered reforming all kinds of staffing practices, from background checks and training to data collection. But a new study finds that we should be just as concerned about elder abuse by roommates and neighbors. At least one in five seniors living in nursing homes has experienced some sort of abuse at the hands of another resident.

The most common resident-on-resident abusive events included verbal mistreatment, menacing gestures, and physical violence. More than 20 percent of the 2,011 residents in the study said they’d experienced at least one abusive event in just the past month.

What’s worse, the risk of abuse was greater in residents with cognitive or memory impairments — the very people least able to defend themselves or report their concerns. Higher incidents of abuse were also correlated with higher nurse aide caseload.

The authors advocate for better protection for residents. They suggest healthcare providers should avoid convenient but harsh interventions like sedation or restraint. Instead, they should look into ways that technology like cameras and data collection can help measure and prevent abuse.

The study was released last week (June 14) in Annals of Internal Medicine. To learn more about elder abuse by roommates and peers, read the editorial article that accompanied the study. Or find out how you can take action on elder abuse in Ohio.

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