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Resident-to-Resident Abuse in Nursing Homes

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Updated March 4, 2020 | Nursing Home and Elder Abuse |


When it’s time for your elderly loved one to move into a long-term care facility, you may be worried about abuse from nursing home staff members. However, the reality is that most of the abuse that takes place at nursing homes comes from a surprising source: other residents.

Resident-to-resident abuse can take the form of physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse, and it is likely to cause physical or psychological distress in the recipient. Nursing home facilities may be liable when resident-to-resident abuse occurs.

What Resident-to-Resident Abuse Looks Like

Resident-to-resident abuse can take many forms, including the following:

  • Bullying
  • Hoarding resources such as seating, television programming, or attention from staff members
  • Name calling, threatening, cursing, or screaming
  • Destroying property or throwing items
  • Hitting, kicking, scratching, or biting
  • Entering a private room without permission
  • Attempting to coerce or steal money
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Exposing self
  • Touching, kissing, or sexually assaulting

Perpetrators of resident-to-resident abuse in nursing homes often suffer from a mood disorder or are otherwise cognitively impaired. In a long-term care facility like a nursing home, they may feel powerless and try to exert control through the abuse of other residents.

Signs of Resident-to-Resident Abuse

Symptoms of resident-to-resident abuse are similar to those of other types of elder abuse. Be on the lookout for warning signs:

  • Physical injuries
  • Desire to relocate or move
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Decreased ability to function in daily life

Take action if you notice these or any other behavior changes in your elderly loved one.

How to Protect Elders

The best way you can protect the elders in your life is by visiting them, asking questions, and observing their living conditions. Ask them about the other residents in their nursing home; if any individuals seem to cause stress or fear, it’s time to act.

Communicating with nursing home staff members is the next step. Ask how they are working to identify and prevent resident-to-resident abuse from occurring in their facility.

Nursing homes are responsible for protecting elderly residents from abuse. If the facility is neglecting the needs of their residents and not taking proactive steps to prevent resident-to-resident abuse, you may need to seek legal counsel.

Contact a Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorney Today

If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused by nursing home staff members or other residents, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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