An 89 year old man who was charged in the killing of his 86 year old roommate at a Buffalo, New York nursing home facility has died. Chester Rusek, 89, passed away in the Erie County Medical Center, where he was being treated for multiple medical issues. He was charged with manslaughter in the November 2012 killing of his roommate in the assisted care facility, Salvatore Trusello, 86.
The authorities stated that Mr. Rusek used a two pound magnet to beat Mr. Trusello to death as he laid in his bed at the senior living community in Tonawanda. Mr. Trusello survived the initial attack but died one month later due to his injuries. Mr. Rusek told police at the time of the attack that he believed that Mr. Trusello was stealing from him. Mr. Rusek’s attorney has stated that once a death certificate is filed, the prosecutors plan to dismiss the charges.
Violence in Nursing Homes
Mr. Rusek and Trusello’s incident is not an isolated case of senior violence in nursing homes. In October 2013, two men in the Beacon Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in the Rockaways shared a room and had a disagreement about the curtain divider. It exploded into violence where one resident, Thomas Yarnavick, 66, took a piece of his wheelchair and severely beat his 71 year old roommate. The roommate died a short time later at the hospital.
In another case, a Houston nursing home resident is facing capital murder charges for killing two people in his room at a nursing home. Guillermo Correa, 56, did not get along with his roommates: Antonio Acosta, 77, and Primitivo Lopez, 51. In April 2014, an argument escalated to violence, and Mr. Correa beat his two roommates to death.
Examples go on and on of increasing levels of senior violence in nursing homes. While most nursing home abuse and neglect is focused on the caregivers, oftentimes the residents are the most violent.
Resident to Resident Mistreatment
Studies have been done that focus on the causes, effects, and rates of resident to resident violence in nursing homes. In a presentation by the New York Presbyterian Health Care System, “negative and aggressive physical, sexual, or verbal interactions between long term care residents that would likely be construed as unwelcome by the recipient in a community setting, and that have high potential to cause physical or psychological distress.”
One major issue in studying and fixing resident on resident violence is that the information is difficult to gather. Some of the major issues are that the events happen constantly, the rates of cognitive impairment are substantial, and dementia produces false positives and negatives.
Another study of resident to resident violence focused on various triggers that seniors in nursing homes have. The study found that two categories of triggers emerged from the work: active triggers and passive triggers. Active triggers included the actions of other residents that were intrusive, like wandering into another resident’s room, taking a resident’s belongings, etc. Passive triggers included the internal and external environment of the residents. For example, factors such as boredom, competition for attention and communication difficulties all contributed to passive triggers. The study found that there is still a lot of work to be done in examining and minimizing resident on resident violence in nursing homes.