Fellow Residents A Danger in Nursing Homes

While we often hear about staff abuse in nursing homes, there is also the very serious danger posed by resident-on-resident abuse.

That is the conclusion of a recent investigation by Canadian news TV magazine W5. If these Canadian statistics indicate what happens south of the border, then that should affect how we approach nursing home and elder abuse in the United States, as well.

In Canada, there were more than 10,000 incidents of resident-on-resident violence in nursing homes in one year. This is a number that astounds experts. Investigators examined hundreds of documents from 38 provincial and regional health authorities. They found incidents ranging from pushing and slapping to more serious abuse — including sexual abuse, choking, and even murder.

For instance, according to the W5 story, one 68-year old-male nursing home resident died a few months after being brutally beaten by a fellow resident. The woman who abused him had dementia and was prone to violence. According to W5, she entered the victim’s room twice in one night and repeatedly hit him over the head with a wooden activity board.

After he recovered and moved back into the care facility, his attacker was moved back into her room. Only three months after the attack, the abused elder died. Police decided not to charge the suspect, citing her mental illness.

In the United States, nursing home abuse by residents and staff is a serious problem. As this CBS article notes, a 2009 congressional report showed that nearly one-third of U.S. nursing homes had been cited for abuse.

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