Study Exposes Nursing Home Residents’ Aggression Against Each Other

Jan. 7, 2015 / By

COLUMBUS, Ohio–When people talk about abuse in nursing homes, they generally are referring to staff members victimizing the elderly.

But researchers say an even more pressing, prevalent problem might be the violence that can — and does — erupt between residents.

According to a new study by Cornell University, nearly one in five people living in nursing homes is involved in at least one aggressive encounter each month.

“These altercations are widespread and common in everyday nursing-home life,” said Karl Pillemer, PhD, a professor at Cornell and at the Weill Cornell Medical College and a co-author of the study.

Staff Often Unaware

Resident-to-resident mistreatment is under-reported to the point that, at some long-term-care centers, “staff members seem almost unaware,” Pillemer said.

Nursing homes provide care for about 1.5 million older Americans nationwide, including about 90,000 in Ohio. By 2030, the number of U.S. adults 65 and older will more than double, to about 71 million.

Research has mostly focused on older adults who have been mistreated by their family and caregivers in the community or by staff members in nursing homes, said Dr. Mark Lachs, who is the other author of the report and a professor of medicine at Cornell’s medical college.

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