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Nursing home abuse: When other residents are involved

One of the most difficult times in life occurs when it becomes clear that one or both of your parents are no longer capable of caring for themselves at home. Maybe they are becoming frail and have injured themselves. Perhaps they are at great risk for falling or other similar dangers. Maybe your loved ones have grown increasingly forgetful, are not cooking meals and have otherwise failed to properly care for themselves.

It may be time to look for a nursing home or similar care facility. For an adult child, this can be an emotional issue. At this point in life, roles reverse and you must take charge of your parents well being.

If you have never dealt with nursing home care, you may feel intimidated and overwhelmed in trying to select a facility. Cost is a troubling issue for many, but also the concern for the care and safety of your parents. You want them in a facility where they will receive compassionate assistance and be protected - not where risks of injury will increase.

Abuse from within

When you think of nursing home abuse, you may think of predatory staff members. However, did you know that abuse could be perpetuated by other residents? A recent report has found that abuse from other nursing home inhabitants can be quite common. Approximately 20 percent of the elderly in care facilities have encountered abuse - verbal or physical - at the hands of another resident.

Some are relatively minor: name-calling or food stolen from trays. Others are more serious, such has invasions of privacy, theft and physical abuse. Some residents are victims of sexual or other physical assaults.

Elder abuse is a significant problem and with the post-war baby boom demographic beginning to enter nursing homes, the number of potential cases could increase even beyond today's numbers.

It estimated that there are at least five million incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Troublingly, it is presumed that underreporting is rampant and that there may be more than 20 incidents for every one that is reported.

Environmental modifications can help address the root cause of some of the abuse. For example, training staff on how to deal with patients suffering from dementia and other mental impairments, using music and implementing low lighting could prevent some of the abusive behavior from some residents.

When your loved one transitions to a nursing home

As you begin the process of finding a facility for your parents' care, observe how the staff and other residents interact. The environment is key to successful living. Also, consider staffing levels, resident numbers and the cleanliness of the rooms. Once your parent is in a room, you can help by remaining aware of their condition and behaviors. Be sure to report and monitor any unusual signs.

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