The average life expectancy in the U.S. has increased to a record high of 78.8 years. For many Americans, that encouraging statistic will be framed by the distinct possibility of having problematic experiences with healthcare’s most hit-or-miss service – nursing homes. Here in Georgia, the news is somewhat discouraging. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that out of the 358 nursing homes within our borders, 20 of them have been fined a total of $2.4 million for having serious deficiencies. While there are many facilities that provide decent care, there are just as many that do not, and it’s the residents who pay the price.
It’s no longer a secret that abuse happens in nursing homes, often at the hands of staff members. Frequently overlooked, however, is the alarming fact that resident-on-resident mistreatment is pervasive. A recent study by Cornell University-Weill Cornell Medical College found that nearly one in five people living in nursing homes is involved in at least one aggressive encounter each month – and that this resident-on-resident violence is likely underreported. Of the more than 2,000 residents that were researched, 16 percent were involved in verbal incidents such as cursing, screaming or yelling; about 6 percent were involved in physical violence, including hitting, kicking or biting; and 1 percent were involved in sexual encounters such as exposing one’s genitals, touching other residents or attempting to gain sexual favors.
Among other reasons, conflicts between nursing home residents can be inflamed by crowded conditions, inadequate staffing, low staff-to-resident ratios, unresolved disputes, depression, medication side effects, and medical conditions that result in personality changes. Aggressors tend to be residents who are somewhat cognitively impaired or suffer from a mood disorder, but in many ways, it can be hard to separate perpetrators from victims in instances of resident-on-resident abuse. Occasionally, there are extreme cases, such as the one in 2014 when a 66-year-old woman strangled her 57-year-old roommate at the Crestwood Nursing Home in Valdosta.
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care has put together a fact sheet with information to help residents identify and deal with abuse. If you or a loved one is having a problem with another nursing home resident, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the Georgia nursing home abuse attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we believe that nursing home patients deserve a safe place to live and the right to be free from abuse. Contact us to discuss your unique situation by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.