Security at Norwegian nursing homes was being questioned this week, after a patient suffering from dementia attempted to strangle a fellow patient at the Stangnes Nursing Home in the northern city of Harstad. His victim later died.
The attack took place after the victim, a 76-year-old man diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s Disease, had fallen asleep on a sofa outside his room at the nursing home early on the morning of May 6. Local newspaper Harstad Tidende reported that a staff member on duty later heard loud voices and “gurgling sounds” coming from the room of another patient, an 81-year-old-man also suffering from dementia.
When he entered the room, he found the 81-year-old with his hands around the other man’s neck, trying to strangle him. It’s believed the 76-year-old had wandered into the 81-year-old’s room, but there were no known conflicts between the two.
The 81-year-old has been formally charged with assault leading to homicide, but police have been unable to question him.
The attack occurred earlier this month but was only reported this week, when the victim’s family expressed fears that nursing home staff failed to get help for the 76-year-old quickly enough. He reportedly was alive when found, but there was a four-hour delay before he was sent by ambulance to a local hospital, where he later died.
Their attorney told newspaper VG that it also took several hours passed before nursing home staff contacted them.
The incident has highlighted potential violence among dementia patients and a lack of staff at nursing homes, most of which are run by municipalities in Norway. Researchers at an auditing firm in northern Norway report an increase in violence, also against staff, involving aggressive patients.
Views and News staff