WHEN BULLYING BECOMES PHYSICAL ASSAULT IN NURSING HOMES
You might think that the worries of being the victim of a bully ended in high school. Unfortunately, some people remain bullies their entire lives. When they enter nursing homes and other senior living facilities in their sunset years, they can torment those who live in close quarters with them. Bullying, along with verbal, emotional, sexual and physical assaults among residents, is an unfortunate reality in too many of these elder care facilities.
Staff members can and should help new residents by partnering them with a current resident who can show them around and help them integrate into the community. When a couple of residents can't be in a common space without a dispute erupting, staff can split them up -- much like teachers do with kids.
Even normally well-behaved people can develop serious behavioral issues with age. Dementia can cause people to act out -- sometimes violently. So can certain medications. Sometimes, older people who have lost their independence and ability to control their lives lash out at others in sheer frustration and anger.
Physical assault, however, is a whole other matter. These facilities typically have clauses in their contracts that allow them to evict residents for repeated and/or serious bad behavior. They can potentially be held liable if one resident harms another -- particularly if they were aware of the resident's propensity for violence and didn't take reasonable precautions to protect others living and working in the facility.
No one should have to live out their final years in fear of being abused or assaulted. If you're concerned that a loved one is being harmed or even treated badly by other residents of their long term facility, don't try to intervene with a problematic resident or their family on your own. That could make the situation worse.
It's essential to talk to those in charge. Find out what steps they intend to take and follow up to make sure that they have. Encourage your loved one to let you know if the problem continues.
If a family member has suffered harm at the hands of another resident and you believe the facility hasn't taken the appropriate action, it may be wise to determine what legal options you have. You can find more information about residential care litigation on our website.