Elders Abusing Elders in Nursing Homes

When we think about nursing home abuse and neglect, most of us imagine a scenario in which a healthcare professional or nursing home employee mistreats an elderly resident. However, a recent study conducted by Cornell University Weill Medical College found that many facilities actually see “a high level of resident-to-resident elder mistreatment.”

Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, and it can result in serious and life-threatening injuries to your elderly loved one. If you believe that your parent has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer.

file0001780974018Aggressive Encounters with Fellow Residents

According to the study out of Cornell, about 20 percent of all residents were “involved in at least one aggressive encounter with fellow residents” during a one-month period. The study involved more than 2,000 nursing home residents, and it also included data from interviews with staff members, internal nursing home reports, direct observation, and responses to a questionnaire given to both residents and staff members. The researchers presented their findings at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting earlier this month.

Karl Pillemer, a lead researcher on the study and a member of the faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College, indicated that “these altercations are widespread and common in everyday nursing home life.” And many people are not aware of this form of elder abuse. Indeed, Pillemer explained, “despite the acute urgency of the problem, resident-to-resident mistreatment is underreported.” What can we do to stop it? Pillemer suggests “increased awareness and the adoption of effective interventions.” Pillemer conducted the study with Mark S. Lachs, a professor of clinical medicine as well as the medical director of the New York City Elder Abuse Center.

Pillemer and Lachs’ study is the first of its kind in many ways. While other researchers have explored the issue of elder-to-elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, the recent study newly included direct observations of the residents and interviews with those residents in order to “determine the prevalence and predictors of elder mistreatment between residents in nursing homes.”

Determining Which Elderly Residents Are at Greatest Risk of Abuse

Who is at greatest risk of elder-to-elder abuse at nursing homes? The study came to the following conclusions about the types of residents who may be more likely than others to be involved in this form of abuse:

  • Younger residents;
  • Residents who show some signs of cognitive disability, but who are “less cognitively and physically impaired” than other residents;
  • Residents who are “prone to disruptive behavior;” and
  • Residents with the ability to physically move around the facility

Interestingly, the study found no clear distinction between male and female residents. It did, however, discover that white and Latino residents were more likely to be involved in elder-to-elder abuse than were African American residents. It is important to note, however, that the study did not differentiate between victims and perpetrators.

Has your elderly parent shown signs of nursing home abuse or neglect? You should contact an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Image Credit: cgiraldez via morgueFile

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