How Should Nursing Homes Handle Aggressive Patients?

September 14, 2020

From simple disagreements to outright battles with orderlies, elderly patients can pose an immediate Danger on themselves, the staff, and other residents. We are all aware that seniors can become extremely aggressive and even violent. These elderly residents may not understand what is going on or may have no control over the rationalization behind their behavior. Similar to young children, the elderly are in a situation where they don’t understand everything, and they’re operating based on emotional cues.

That doesn’t give any excuse for staff at senior living facilities to handle or inappropriately treat a patient. Many adults want to turn to punishment and other forms of reprimand when it comes to handling aggressive patients. However, our Columbia nursing home neglect attorneys know that it is not effective. We know that these patients need support and care, not punishments.

Why Aggression Happens in Later Age

Now, not all aggressive patients are violent or hard to deal with because of Dementia or Alzheimer’s. In fact, some people just don’t outgrow bullying. Some people will always want to exert their opinion or power over others, and that results in everything emotional trauma and abuse to physical violence. So how exactly staff takes action against these patients?

Often there isn’t much action to take. When staff decides to do anything other than removing some privileges, they often find themselves deadlocked in a battle of wills. Which is another reason why seniors become aggressive: power over personal decisions. In this case, it’s not a matter of bullying but that the person, for decades, had the power to control everyday elements of life. What they ate, when they ate, and what they watched on TV are all small things, but when a person has no personal decision-making power, it’s no surprise that they get cranky.

Finally, there’s the issue of personality differences. From disconnects based on personal views or outright butting heads, some people just don’t get along. You might brush some of this off as a “different generation” problem, but often it takes two people to have these issues.

When Does “Handling” a Patient Become Abuse?

We have all probably seen the hyped-up version of patient handling through movies or television, where orderlies rush in to restrain an aggressive patient. Medical staff should understand that anytime a resident’s behavior is continuing to escalate, there should be no physical contact. Touching will often trigger violence, and when medical staff is struck or targeted for violence, they may react without intention.

Handling a patient should be the absolute last-ditch effort to prevent a patient from harming themselves or another patient. That means caregivers need to work closely with their team to prevent and deescalate situations where a patient could become violent. Interacting with a patient such as grabbing them, forcing them to sit, restraining them, or becoming combative, can all be the foundation of abuse.

Punishments for Bad Behavior

How do you punish an elderly person? Someone who has little or no power over there personal choices or daily activities? What do you do when someone has no privileges to take away? Families that don’t like to hear it, but often the punishments for bad behavior and medical care facilities are physical. Inappropriately restraining a person or inappropriately administering a medication that wasn’t necessary to deescalate a situation are usually the small stepping stones that lead medical staff to abuse.

If you have seen these types of behaviors when visiting your senior, then it’s possible that abuse is an issue in that facility. It does not take medical staff very long to go from inappropriately restraining to outright mistreatment.

Get Help for Elderly Mistreatment with a Nursing Home Injury Lawyer

Handling a violent or aggressive elderly patient can be quite a bit more than most medical professionals bargained for. But, that doesn’t give anyone any license to mistreat and elderly person. Most of the elderly people in care facilities are acting out, or violent because of medical conditions beyond their control. These aren’t elements that should ever justify abuse or the mishandling of a senior. Don’t let your family member suffer because they don’t understand what’s going on in their life.

Contacting Connell Law should be one of the first things you do after alerting authorities of the abuse. Taking legal action is usually the only way to see full justice or recover compensation. These facilities are excellent at hiding their activity, and getting out of criminal charges, take civil action to get your loved one’s story heard.