All nursing home residents are at risk of having their vulnerabilities exploited. If an individual did not have some mental or physical ailments, then they would not be in the facility to begin with. However, that is not to say that all nursing home residents are alike or face the same risks. There is much diversity within homes. Some seniors have relatively fewer challenges, often able to do most things on their own. At the other end of the spectrum there are seniors who are virtually bedridden, unable to perform anything without assistance.
Obviously, those with more severe challenges can more readily be neglected or abused. Residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s also fall into that category. Those with cognitive problems do not necessarily have immediate physical challenges, but their memory issues can cause confusion–sometimes leading to combativeness, wandering, and more. As a result, these residents may be harder for caregivers to manage, requiring more specialized support.
Unfortunately, the increased “challenge” of providing proper support for this group of residents leads to increase risk of abuse and mistreatment. Instead of doing what needs to be done, far too many caregivers resort to neglect and horrendous conduct when dealing with these seniors
A glance at recent news stories on the topic offers some sad examples of this abuse. For example, a local FOX News report shared information on the arrest of a former caregiver this month. The man was arrested for an incident that happened this summer and was witnessed by a colleague. According to the story, the man physically forced a washcloth into the mouth of a 90-year old dementia resident. Then, while another employee held her arms back, the senior was doused with cold water in a shower. According to documents filed by authorities, the caregiver allegedly told the senior, “You need your mouth washed out.”
As discussed in a separate NBC story this week, another former nursing home caregiver was found guilty of abusing a senior in a criminal trial. The woman was a certified nursing assistant at the long-term care facility and worked with seniors with dementia. The story explains that for some reason she placed a trash bag over one senior with dementia as she sat in her wheelchair.
In acknowledging the verdict, the state’s attorney general explained, “We have a special obligation to look out for the most vulnerable members of our community, including residents of nursing homes and patients in health care facilities who often can’t speak up and speak out,”
No one can say for certain what leads caregivers to physically abuse residents with dementia. Perhaps some get a perverse pleasure out of exercising extreme control over another. Or maybe the caregiver has personal challenges that they take out on those at the home. No matter what the case, there is simply zero excuse for engaging in this behavior. Exploitation of the most vulnerable among us must be stamped out at all times. If you suspect elder abuse or mistreatment, please do not stay silent. Give our attorneys a call a see how we can help.
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