FRIDAY, Nov. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly adults who live in
nursing homes may commonly deal with aggressive or inappropriate
behavior from fellow residents, a new study suggests.
The study of
10 centers in New York state found that, in the space of just one
month, nearly 20 percent of residents were involved in some type of
incident with a fellow resident.
often, it was a verbal clash, with someone yelling or cursing at
another resident. In other cases, the incidents involved hitting or
kicking -- or, in a small percentage, inappropriate touching.
discovered that this is a much more prevalent problem than any of us
realized," said researcher Karl Pillemer, a gerontology professor at
Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
Results of the
study were presented at a recent meeting of the Gerontological Society
of America. Findings from studies presented at meetings are generally
considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed
Pillemer's research also zeroed in on the residents who
were most likely to be involved in incidents. "Typically," Pillemer
said, "they were people who were in the moderate stages of dementia, but
were still physically able to get around."
That makes sense,
according to Dr. Laura Mosqueda, a geriatrics specialist who was not
involved in the study. Mosqueda directs the National Center on Elder
Abuse at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.
home residents with dementia commonly become confused, and may act out
aggressively -- but only if they have the physical capacity to do so,
"I think the point this study raises is, who's
responsible or accountable for this behavior?" Mosqueda said. "It's not
the residents. In my view, it's the owners and people running the
facilities. Do they have enough staff with the appropriate training?"
Still, Mosqueda also cautioned against an alarmist interpretation of the findings.
noted that one of the more common forms of "aggression" in this study
was "unwelcome entry" into another resident's room or going through
another person's possessions.
"I'm not saying that behavior is
OK," Mosqueda said. But, she added, it's common for dementia patients to
become confused and unintentionally wander into a room that is not
For the study, Pillemer's team randomly selected 10
nursing homes in New York state that housed more than 2,000 residents
altogether. Through staff interviews, surveys of residents and direct
observation, the researchers estimated that over one month, nearly 20
percent of residents were involved in at least one incident of
aggressive or inappropriate behavior.
Overall, 16 percent were
involved in a verbal clash, while 10.5 percent had an
invasion-of-privacy issue. Almost 6 percent were involved in a physical
incident, like kicking, biting or hitting; and just over 1 percent
experienced a sexual incident, like inappropriate touching, according to
Pillemer said his team did not try to distinguish between "perpetrator" and "victim."
often difficult to know," he noted. "And when you're talking about
people with dementia, the traditional terms of 'perpetrator' and
'victim' don't hold up anyway."
One surprise, Pillemer said, was
that men and women were equally likely to be involved in these
incidents. "We'd suspected that it might be more common among men, but
that wasn't the case," he said.
Pillemer added that the findings
highlight an issue for nursing home administrators to address.
Facilities need not only enough staff members, but also adequately
trained ones, he said.
"We believe that the first line of defense
is appropriate staff training," Pillemer said. He added that right now,
staff often feel frustrated by incidents between residents, but
"relatively helpless" in preventing them.
Full Article & Source:
Senior-to-Senior Aggression Common in U.S. Nursing Homes