Personal conflicts, even violence, are not uncommon in long-term care

At an assisted living facility in New York state, a small crowd had gathered at the entrance to the dining room at lunchtime, waiting for the doors to open. As one researcher observed, a woman, tired and frustrated, asked the man in front of her to move; he didn’t seem to hear.

” Lets’ go ! she shouted – and pushed her walker towards him.

In Salisbury, Maryland, a woman woke up in the dark to find another resident in her room at an assisted living complex. Her daughter, Rebecca Addy-Twaits, suspected that her 87-year-old mother, who has dementia and can become confused, was hallucinating about the encounter.

But the man, who lived down the hall, returned half a dozen times, sometimes during Mrs. Addy-Twaits’ visits. He never threatened or harmed his mother, but “she has a right to her privacy,” Ms. Addy-Twaits said. She reported the incidents to administrators.

In long-term care facilities, residents sometimes shout or threaten each other, hurl insults, invade the personal or living space of other residents, and go through and take other people’s belongings. They may hit, kick or push.

Or worse. Eilon Caspi, a gerontologist at the University of Connecticut, searched the media and coroners’ reports and identified 105 resident deaths in long-term care facilities for more than 30 years following incidents involving other residents.

The actual number is higher, he explained, because these deaths don’t always get media attention or are not reported in detail to authorities.

“We face an extraordinary paradox: the institutions, nursing homes and assisted living facilities that care for the most vulnerable members of our society are among the most violent in our society,” said Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University who studied the behavior of residents at home. -resident conflict for years.

Aside from psychiatric hospitals and youth residential facilities, he said, “it doesn’t happen anywhere else that one in five residents are involved in some sort of aggressive incident every month.”

That figure – 20.2 percent of residents were involved in at least one verified incident of resident-on-resident abuse in a month – comes from a landmark study he and several co-authors published in 2016, involving more than 2,000 residents of 10 urban and suburban nursing homes in New York State.

“It’s ubiquitous,” Dr. Pillemer said. “Regardless of the quality of the house, the prices are similar. »

In May, the same team published a follow-up study looking at resident-on-resident assault in an assisted living facility. The researchers expected to find a lower prevalence because most assisted living residents are healthier and have fewer cognitive impairments than those in nursing homes, and most live in private apartments with more space.

Based on data from 930 residents of 14 large facilities in New York State, the numbers were indeed lower, but not by much: About 15 percent of assisted living residents were involved in…

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