Mentally ill patients pose a threat to the elderly in nursing homes

According to new research released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, 124,977 mentally ill patients aged 22 to 64 are currently living in the nation's nursing homes, up 41 percent from 88,686 in 2002. Many of the mentally ill patients pose a serious threat to other residents, resulting in a growing number of homicides, reports the Associated Press.

"Sadly we're seeing the tragic results of federal and state governments to provide appropriate treatment and housing for those with mental illnesses and to provide a safe environment for the frail elderly," said Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform.

While most states saw increases in mentally ill populations in their nursing homes, Utah, Nevada, Missouri, Alabama and Texas were hardest hit, according to the CMS findings. Mentally ill patients have reportedly struck and killed elderly residents with blunt objects such as clock radios and towel bars. Still other mentally ill patients in nursing homes have reportedly raped elderly residents and started fires, according to the AP.

For more information:
- check out this Associated Press article
- read this MedPage Today article