Nursing Home Abuse Doesn’t Just Happen To Seniors

When we think of nursing home abuse, we inevitably think of senior citizens and the elderly. However, residential care facilities like nursing homes don’t just care for our elder loved ones – they also care for anyone who might need daily assistance from trained staff or anyone who isn’t able to care for themselves.

Here are just a few types of people who may be living in a nursing home:

•    People who are recovering from a surgery, operation, or other medical procedure.
•    People with cognitive disabilities and the mentally ill.
•    Victims of traumatic brain injuries.

According to the most recent numbers, about nine percent of nursing home residents are now between the ages of 22 and 64 – and increase of three percent from just a decade ago. All in all, about 125,000 people with physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities live in nursing homes today.

What is the reason for this increase? Many states, including North Carolina, are struggling with their budgets, and in many cases state-run assisted living facilities and facilities for the mentally ill have seen serious budget cuts and reforms. At the same time, some facilities simply don’t have enough beds to take all patients and the overflow is sent to nursing homes. In some cases, families may choose to place their loved on in a nursing home instead of in a state-run facility.

Unfortunately, the increase in younger, mentally ill and disabled nursing home residents leads to two serious issues. First, these patients are also at risk for nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect – and may have an even higher risk for these issues. Because many nurses and staff members at nursing homes are not trained to take care of such a wide range of patients, they may not know how to properly care for or treat patients with mental illness or behavioral problems. Secondly, the mentally ill may not mix well with older residents, who have a very different and specific set of special needs. As the population of non-seniors in nursing homes grows, so do reports of violent assaults, sexual assaults, and other patient-to-patient issues.