Estimates suggest around five million seniors in the United States suffer abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation every single year. This is actually a low estimate, as many cases of abuse go unreported. Often, caregivers are the perpetrators of abusive behavior which causes harm to seniors. When a caregiver engages in abuse and their unlawful behavior comes to light, they can be arrested and prosecuted, and the victim and/or the victim's family can take legal action by pursuing a claim against the nursing home or care facility that employed them.
In addition to caregiver abuse, there is another type of abuse which occurs far too commonly: resident-to-resident nursing home abuse. CBS reported recently on a comprehensive large scale study which aimed to assess the prevalence of resident-to-resident abuse. The study was the first of its kind to focus on this issue by conducting a large and in-depth assessment.
How Common is Resident-to-Resident Nursing Home Abuse?
To determine the prevalence of resident-to-resident abuse, surveillance and interviews occurred in 10 different nursing homes. There were a total of 2,011 nursing home residents who were included in the study. Unfortunately, the research revealed 407 of the residents experienced some kind of abuse at the hands of their peers. This means around one out of every five seniors in a nursing home setting is being abused by other nursing home residents.
Abuse was defined to include many different kinds of mistreatment, including:
- Residents being run over by patients in wheelchairs.
- Nursing home residents entering another patient's room and going through their possessions.
- Name calling or other types of verbal abuse.
- Physical abuse of various types, including violent and aggressive acts of hitting, pushing, and related behaviors.
- Nursing home residents stealing food from the plates of other residents.
- Sexual abuse.
Approximately 1/4 of the instances of maltreatment by one resident to another resident involved physical abuse. The other examples of abuse were psychological, verbal, or fell into another category. Both physical and mental abuse can be detrimental to a senior's health.
Addressing this kind of abuse can be hard, because sometimes the residents who commit the wrongful acts suffer from dementia or other conditions and lack the ability to control their behavior. Ultimately, the best and only way to protect seniors from resident-to-resident abuse is for a nursing home to have policies in place which are designed to protect patient safety and ensure adequate supervision. If a nursing facility has substandard policies and any patient is at risk, the nursing home could potentially be held accountable for resulting damages.