Mark L. Karno
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Is your elderly parent affected by nursing home bullying?

If you have a parent or another loved one in a nursing home, it is likely that you assume the trust of the carers to take care of his or her every need. While many carers are responsible and highly conscientious staff, there is a growing epidemic when it comes to understaffing in nursing homes. Therefore it is becoming increasingly common for issues to arise because nursing home residents are not getting the attention and care that they need and are entitled to.

This is particularly true when it comes to patient-to-patient bullying in nursing homes. It is not unheard of for a nursing home resident to be singled out and bullied by one or multiple residents. If nursing homes were adequately staffed, it should not be a problem for nursing home staff to recognize this behavior and implement a procedure in order to stop this bullying. However, when the problem is not recognized, residents can suffer, leading them to feel frightened, alone, depressed and ashamed. They may be too embarrassed to tell loved ones about the problem, but a change in their behavior may be enough to raise concern.

Why would nursing home residents be bullied?

While most social workers and caretakers in nursing homes have the best interests of the nursing home residents in mind, some might be affected by the common phenomenon of understaffing. This can mean that caregivers become overworked and easily angered, which is never excusable. As a result, they may manipulate or neglect residents, or be purposefully mean or insulting, causing the residents distress.

Who is at risk for nursing home bullying?

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.

What you can do

Nursing homes have the legal responsibility to provide adequate care for their patients, and this includes maintaining a high level of patient monitoring to check for social issues such as bullying. When bullying does occur and it was not reacted to appropriately by the nursing home, they may be liable in a legal claim.

If you have a loved one who was bullied in a nursing home in Illinois, it is important that you take action in order to stand up for his or her rights.

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