The Added Risks of Dementia in a Nursing Home Setting

In recent years, the problem of nursing home abuse has become painfully apparent. While this is good news for abused residents who previously had little say in the matter, the practice remains stubbornly widespread. Moreover, studies have shown that residents with dementia are far more likely to suffer abuse than their peers. Learn more about the problem and its potential solutions.

Why It Occurs

Simply put, elderly nursing home residents with dementia are “easy targets” for nursing home staffers. Since they may already suffer from confusion and memory loss, cognitively impaired patients are less likely to report physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Severely impaired patients may not even remember the details of such abuse.

It’s also important to tease out the root causes of nursing home abuse. These may include:

•    Grueling work schedules that include 12-hour shifts and 60-hour workweeks
•    Inconsistent patient assignments
•    Chronic under-staffing
•    Poor quality control or oversight
•    A general culture of mistrust or resentment among staff members

Noteworthy Cases

Some especially brutal or wide-ranging elder abuse cases have earned national and even international attention. A recent incident in Philadelphia highlights the dangers that overworked or vindictive nursing home employees can pose for patients with dementia. Another “outbreak” in a small English town ensnared several employees who had systematically abused residents for years. Other noteworthy cases in Minnesota, Florida and California point to a disturbing trend.

Signs of Mistreatment

The National Center for Elder Abuse reports that nearly 50% of elders with dementia suffer abuse at some point during their stays. Since it may be unreasonable to expect abused nursing home patients to raise the issue on their own, it’s crucial for family members to recognize the signs of potential mistreatment.

Early warning signs include emotional withdrawal, evasive statements and behavioral changes in the presence of abusive employees. Chronic physical abuse is often marked by unexplained sores, bruises, cuts or muscle injuries. Sexual abuse may be indicated by problems with urination, STIs and bowel issues. If you notice any of these symptoms, speak with your nursing home’s management team. If this doesn’t produce results, remove your loved one from the home or contact a licensed attorney.

Taking Action to Protect Your Loved Ones

The sad truth is that elder abuse is far more likely to happen to nursing home residents who can’t easily fight back. If your family member or loved one suffers from dementia or other cognitive impairments, it’s crucial that you prepare for this unfortunate eventuality. To learn more about your options in the event of documented or suspected abuse, contact a trustworthy NY attorney at Brown Chiari who can advise you on your legal standing. Reach us online at our website, or call (716) 681-7190 at your convenience.