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Is a resident's mental state a precursor to nursing home abuse?

As more and more Baby Boomers are at or near the age of retirement, many Chicago are residents are likely to be confronted with the possibility of placing a family member in long-term care during the coming years. As nursing home populations grow, many may wonder: How big of a problem will nursing home neglect and abuse become?

Knowing that some public health officials and family members would like to do whatever is possible to mitigate the risk of poor treatment in nursing homes, it may become important to identify what types of residents are most susceptible to abuse. One study from the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey tried to do just that by looking at abuse rates among people who have some form of dementia.

It seems that a person with Alzheimer's disease or dementia is at particular risk of being abused by a caretaker, which may be due to the cognitive challenges posed by these medical conditions. Nearly 12 percent of caregivers included in the survey directed physically abusive behavior at the person receiving treatment. This means that thousands of people are at risk of being intentionally hurt while they are in long-term care, which may only become more prevalent as more people are sent to nursing homes.

While it may be important for elders' loved ones to be on the lookout for signs of abuse, it's ultimately still the responsibility of nursing home staff to follow the law and provide high-quality care. Unfortunately, news of abuse in nursing home emerges everyday, so it's important for residents and their family to understand their rights.

Source: Medical Daily, "Elder Abuse: An Impending National Crisis?" Susan Scutti, May 30, 2013

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