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Every nursing home resident and every family with a loved one living in a nursing home needs to be aware of the risk of abuse and neglect. Residents being mistreated by staff members and even other residents is shockingly common. However, not all residents face the same risks.
Some nursing home residents are still active, healthy, and independent, and they may need only minor assistance with a few living tasks. Other residents may be very ill, have little to no mobility, and may require assistance with all daily living tasks, including bathing, using the bathroom, and eating.
The more disabled and dependent a resident is, the more likely they are to be abused or neglected. Here’s why that happens.
When people bully, pick on, or abuse others, they often look for targets that are less capable of fighting back or defending themselves. Sadly, this applies to nursing home abuse, too. Staff members and residents who abuse residents are far more likely to choose a resident with a physical disability than a resident who is active and mobile.
Disabled residents are often highly dependent on staff members or even other residents, especially when they share rooms, for assistance with daily tasks and needs. When residents are abused or neglected by these people, they may be afraid of reporting them, especially if they’ve grown accustomed to the help and assistance they provide.
In some cases, disabled residents may be physically or cognitively unable to report mistreatment at the hands of staff members or other residents. This makes it even more likely that they’ll be abused or neglected, as the offending party may have little fear of being caught.
Nursing home residents who are healthy, active, and largely independent often need very little assistance in their day-to-day lives. That means that staff interactions with them are typically brief and pleasant and involve little to no direct hands-on care.
Disabled residents require more hands-on care, including physical exertion from staff members to help them get in and out of bed, the bath, their wheelchairs, vehicles, etc. When staff members frequently touch and lift residents, they have more opportunities to physically harm them.
Some disabled residents suffer from conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These forms of cognitive decline can result in many behavioral changes, including uncharacteristic anger and even aggression.
Nursing home staff members are trained to handle these residents with care and compassion, but they may become angry when residents become uncooperative or aggressive. That can lead to them abusing those residents. It can also lead to neglect, as staff members may avoid interacting with those residents, depriving them of food, water, and medication.
A common form of neglect in nursing homes is unwanted isolation. Many disabled residents want the opportunity to socialize with other residents, participate in nursing home events, eat their meals in the dining room, and so on. But staff members may forget to bring disabled residents to common areas during socialization opportunities or knowingly leave them in their rooms—especially if it takes a lot of effort to transport them.
Nursing home staff members and other residents often notice when residents have visitors, including family members and friends. Residents who receive a lot of visitors may be less likely to be mistreated, as any signs of abuse or neglect are more likely to be noticed and reported.
Residents who are cognitively disabled may be less able to communicate and require more hands-on care, which means they may receive fewer visitors—and that can lead to an increase in their risk of being abused or neglected because abusers know it’s likely to go unnoticed.
Nursing home abuse is never acceptable, regardless of whether a resident is healthy and active or sick and disabled. All nursing home residents have rights, including the right to be free from all forms of abuse and neglect.
If your loved one complains of mistreatment at the hands of staff members or other residents, or if you notice potential signs of abuse, it’s important to get an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer on your side right away.
The legal team at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy is ready to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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