Facility residents may unknowingly provoke violence from peers

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Some nursing home residents may unwittingly bring on violence from peers, according to a research team at the Harvard School of Public Health. The behavior of some residents, especially those suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, may spark outbursts from other residents, researchers said.

They said that nursing home workers should look for ways to protect potential victims of such violence rather than assign them blame for outbursts.

The Harvard research team reviewed reports from the year 2000 that detailed 294 residents who were attacked and nearly 2,000 who were not. "(W)alking into the wrong bedroom or eating from another resident's plate may have precipitated an assault," they gave as examples.

Men were more likely than women to be injured; in turn, those who were injured were more likely to behave disruptively or abuse others. People mildly impaired were five times more likely to be injured than the non-impaired; the risk mushroomed to 12-times more likely for the severely impaired.

More details of the study can be found in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.