As many as 60 percent of senior citizens who live in a nursing home environment do not receive outside visitors. Review Journal reported on this troubling statistic recently. When seniors do not receive regular visitors from outside, those seniors are much more likely to become depressed. The psychological results of having no visitors are troubling, as lonely seniors are more likely to die sooner than those who have routine contact with the outside world.
Psychological consequences like depression are not the only result of seniors not getting outside visitors when they live in a nursing home. Unfortunately, Review Journal indicates research shows seniors who get no visitors have a greater chance of being victims of abuse or of neglect by caregivers in their nursing facility.
Why are Seniors Without Visitors at Greater Risk of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
There are several possible reasons why seniors face a greater risk of nursing home abuse or neglect if they do not have visitors when they are living in a nursing home.
One of the simplest explanations is nursing home staff members are aware of who gets visitors, so they know who is being watched and cared for by family members and who isn’t. If staff is overworked and does not have time to tend to the needs of every patient, they know it is unlikely someone will notice if a senior who doesn’t get visitors is neglected. Likewise, nursing home staff may feel as if no one will notice signs of abuse on a person who doesn’t regularly get visits.
Another issue is the seniors who don’t get visits have no outside family members who can advocate for them to get better care. In a nursing home setting, research has shown the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The more a nursing home resident’s family members speak up for the resident and make contact with the staff, the better the care the senior will receive.
Finally, a third issue is the senior who doesn’t have visitors may not have anyone to report abuse or neglect to. The senior may be frightened to speak up to anyone who works for the nursing home, so may have no outlet to report abuse occurring by staff members if he or she gets no outside visitors.
While there is little that can be done about seniors not getting visitors, those who do come to nursing homes should be watchful for signs of problems. Volunteers and even people who are visiting other residents should be on the lookout for possible signs of problems and should speak up if they see anyone being hurt or being neglected in any way.
Abuse victims who have the ability to speak out should also report their abuse and take appropriate legal action, not only to get compensation for their own damages endured but also because their actions can help to protect other more vulnerable residents who may not have the ability to speak out.