Nursing Home Abuse and Wrongful Death: Will 98 Year Old Stand Trial for Murder of Roommate?

Maryland injury lawyers who assist families in nursing home abuse and neglect cases hear some sad and maddening stories of harm — or even murder — befalling seniors in the care of retirement facilities.

When most people in Maryland think about nursing home abuse, they usually suspect elder care staff as the most likely culprits. But the elderly residents themselves may also abuse their fellow senior citizens — or worse. A chilling news story reported out of the Boston area last week focuses on the strangulation death of a grandmother who had recently celebrated her 100th birthday with her family.

According to an Associated Press report in The Baltimore Sun, a 98-year-old woman has been indicted for strangling and smothering her 100-year-old roommate by tying a plastic bag around her head because she felt she was “trying to take over the room.” The two women’s beds were separated by just four feet. The Sun reports that the victim’s son had asked the facility to separate the two women due to tensions between them, but he was reassured that they were getting along — and that his mother did not want to leave the room, where she had lived with her husband until his death in 2007.

The Boston Globe goes on to say that on the evening prior to the murder, the alleged perpetrator placed a table in front of the victim’s bed, preventing her from going to the bathroom. When a nursing aide moved the table, the 98-year-old punched her. The 100-year-old was found asphyxiated the following morning, in a room that was just several feet from a nurses’ station. When staff moved the woman to another room, she spotted a white shopping bag and was quoted as telling her new roommate, “I hope I don’t have to use that.” She reportedly had a history of dementia and erratic behavior.

A tragic case like this brings up many troubling questions for Maryland nursing home abuse attorneys, regarding whether or not this nursing home death could have been prevented, had staff and management heeded the warning signs. Massachusetts courts are pushing forward with indicting the 98-year-old, who was being evaluated in a psychiatric hospital. If she is found competent to stand trial, she will be the oldest murder suspect to go on trial in the state.

Sources:
Woman, 98, indicted on murder charges
Boston.com Dec. 12, 2009

Woman, 98, indicted in death of 100-year-old nursing-home roommate
CNN.com Dec. 14, 2009

Related Web Resources
Maryland Department of Aging / Housing Information