While individuals might put nursing home negligence and nursing home abuse into different categories, the outcome is generally the same. Whether the harm is caused intentionally or through inattention, elderly nursing home residents will likely suffer injuries or worsening conditions as a result. A nursing home staff often relies on the use of restraints under the guise of keeping residents safe. Unfortunately, these restraints can cause harm – both physically and mentally.
It might be necessary to limit a resident’s freedom of movement in a nursing home setting. For example, if the resident is prone to wandering or has a history of falling out of bed and injuring himself or herself, the staff might find it safer to restrain the individual. Unfortunately, these actions are often taken without considering the damage they might be causing.
While physical injuries such as lacerations, broken bones and ligament damage have been studied in the past, the hidden psychological damage is only just starting to be investigated.
Physical restraints can include:
- Limb ties
- Wheelchair bars
- Wheelchair brakes
- Bedside rails
Additionally, a nursing home resident might simply tip an occupied chair back to throw balance off or tuck in sheets and blankets too tightly in order to restrict movement.
It is not uncommon for elderly residents to report that certain restraints make them feel secure. Many, however, experience more troubling emotions leading to a traumatic episode rather than a therapeutic one. Elderly residents can experience feelings of shame, loss of dignity, loss of self-respect and social isolation. Additionally, the loss of freedom of movement can lead many elderly nursing home residents to experience feelings of anxiety and aggression. The use of restraints, often, is equated with imprisonment accompanied by constant fear of attack in a vulnerable state.
Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that leaves elderly residents struggling with new injuries or conditions each year. By holding a nursing home staff accountable for their actions, it might be possible to end this devastating treatment