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Cornell study shows 1 in 5 nursing home residents abused

Thousands of Illinois residents make the difficult decision to place a relative in the care of a nursing home each year. Families often carefully select a skilled nursing facility that is equipped to provide proper, professional care for their loved one. However, a new research study found that one in five nursing home residents suffers abuse within four weeks of being placed in a facility. The most common source of this abuse is not the nursing home staff but other residents at the home.

According to the study, which was released by researchers at Cornell University in November, altercations between nursing home residents occur so frequently that staff members are not aware it occurs. Incidents range from mild violations of personal space such as rummaging through another resident's possessions to severe acts of physical violence and sexual assault. Injuries resulting from resident-to-resident abuse include fractures, bruises and lacerations, which were often made worse by the frailty and age of those involved. Issues such overcrowding and understaffing were found to exacerbate the abuse.

Mistreatment of older citizens is an important and growing human rights issue in America. According to a 2010 research study, 11 percent of older Americans suffer emotional, physical or financial abuse each year. Elderly victims of abuse are three times more likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to be sent to a nursing home than those who are not abused.

Anyone who suspects a loved one has suffered abuse from other residents or staff members at a nursing home may wish to consult with an attorney. Signs of abuse and neglect can include dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, bruises, lacerations, bone fractures and slips and falls.

Source: New America Media, "Study: 1 in 5 Nursing Home Residents Abused", Barbara Peters Smith, December 04, 2014

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