Nursing home abuse is all too common in Illinois, and a recent study indicates that a great number of these cases are at the hands of other residents. With so much focus placed on abuse by staff, the dynamic between patients is often overlooked by advocates for the elderly.
How Common is Resident to Resident Abuse?
A recent U.S. study indicates that one in every five nursing home residents have experienced physical or verbal mistreatment by other residents. Over 2,000 nursing home residents participated in the study and 407 were involved in at least one instance of abuse during the four-week study period. Being taunted verbally accounted for around 45% of cases, with physical assaults making up 26%.
Medical professionals suggest that placing large groups of people with dementia and other neurodegenerative illnesses into communal living situations can naturally lead to conflict. Roommates are at particular risk when placed with patients with such issues. Reported incidences include being run over by a wheelchair, going through other’s belongings, name-calling, physical violence and sexual assault. This unwelcome behavior can lead to physical or psychological suffering.
Preventing Nursing Home Abuse
Alzheimer’s experts recommend certain steps which can lower the chance of resident to resident abuse. These recommendations include:
- Limiting distractions such as blinking or flashing lights, loud noises, television and crowds, which could become triggers to abuse behavior.
- Offering opportunities for relaxing activities.
- Changing activities when aggression begins to form.
- Playing soothing music.
- Training staff to respond to, rather than ignore yelling, which can be another trigger for aggression.
Overcrowding in nursing homes can also contribute to the likelihood of abuse by residents. The fewer patients that are packed into small areas, the less likely that abusive situations will occur.
Illinois now allows certain measures to protect the interest of nursing home patients, including cameras, which families may place in their rooms. Simple changes, like improved lighting and noise-proofing, and proper staff training on the issue can make a big difference when it comes to prevention. With more research, more solutions are being developed to create more positive living environments for all nursing home residents.
When abuse of a nursing home resident is suspected, consulting with a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney can provide answers about liability and possible compensation for victims.