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Previous blogs on this site have touched on nursing home abuse of residents by staff. Unfortunately, cases are increasingly coming to light of abuse and assault of nursing home residents by visitors and fellow residents. An elderly woman in a Minnesota home was the victim of a sexual assault by another resident of her home who had been in prison and had a long history of committing sex crimes.

Another senior woman was sexually assaulted by a visitor to another resident in her nursing home who was a registered sex offender. In Ohio, an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer was killed by his roommate who had assaulted two other residents at the same facility before fatally beating his roommate. This nursing home crime was preventable with due care and common sense by the nursing home administrators. Evidently, the home had a history of other infractions and the two prior incidents of assault and the murder were not reported to the proper authoritie. The facility has since been fined and has lost its Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Should there be separate facilities for dangerous seniors with a history of violent crimes or sex crimes? Must nursing homes conduct the same background checks on new patients as they do for staff? The civil liberties and privacy issues in such measures are obvious. There is no easy fix for the problem of abuse of nursing home residents by fellow residents or visitors. Security must be balanced with the need to maintain as non-institutional an atmosphere as is feasible given the care needs and limitations of the residents. Some institutional-like features are inevitable. In the end, there is no substitute for careful research by family before committing to a nursing home for a loved one. Given that some residents do not have involved family and that choices of homes may be limited, government regulators and the nursing home industry itself has to do better to protect residents from crimes in their homes.

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