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Friday, November 27, 2009

NH Roomate clashes

Nursing home clashes mar the golden years - The Boston Globe  Patricia Wen can be reached at wen@globe.com
Some nursing home residents instantly warm to their roommates, much like college freshmen who lucked out in the roommate draw. But for many, the adjustment can be profound. <snipped>

Nursing home roommates also bring special challenges. Roughly 80 percent of residents have some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which causes memory lapses and sometimes delusions and paranoia. Between feuding roommates, a misplaced sock can turn into a larceny investigation; late-night snoring can become a sensory assault. Roommates can quickly get troubling reputations as “the roamer,’’ “the bathroom hog,’’ or “the attention-seeker.’’

Early intervention by trained staff is important to defuse tensions - even ward off physical confrontations.

A 2004 study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, among others, was one of the first to identify this problem, finding that in one year, Massachusetts nursing homes reported some 300 cases of serious injuries, including fractures, cuts, and bruises, because of violence from fellow residents.

A study published last year found that “calling out or making noise’’ was identified as one of the most frequent triggers for “resident-to-resident aggression.’’ Dr. Mark Lachs at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, a coauthor of the study, said these conflicts are ubiquitous in nursing homes.

Researchers say the best way to maintain safety in a nursing home is to offer strong day-to-day enrichment programming, which engages the residents. And creative solutions often reduce conflicts.
Elder-care advocates note, however, that Massachusetts regulations prohibit a nursing home resident from being evicted from a room for just any reason; the staff must identify safety or health issues. A nursing home “is a home,’’ and a person’s bedroom is a key part of that home, said W. Scott Plumb, senior vice president of public policy at the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.