New Orleans, LA- It’s unthinkable and hard to fathom, but sexual abuse of the elderly happens.  It can happen in the home or in nursing home and occurs at the hands of sick individuals who take advantage of the vulnerable and infirm.

Today, police in Louisiana arrested a male nurse’s aide for attempted rape and sexual assault of a 78 year-old resident of the Wynhoven Healthcare Center in Marrero. Kenneth Whidden, 50, was taken into custody and is being held on bond.

According to the Times-Picayune, a nurse doing her rounds at the home found Whidden lying down in the bed of a resident with his pants down. Staffers suspected that some sort of sexually activity took place and notified authorities.

During questioning Whidden admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the resident, but police didn’t elaborate on what exactly occurred. They did say Whidden admitted to “pleasuring himself.”

Luckily, the woman was not injured.

The staff of this particular facility took action immediately and fortunately that nurse discovered Whidden before he could cause too much harm to the resident. This particular facility is being very proactive about the incident, promising to call the resident’s family and family members of other patients who may have been affected. The facility also invited anyone who has concerns to contact them.

Not all nursing homes react as positively as this particular home did. There are many cases where homes ignore physical, verbal or sexual abuse or fail to notify authorities when a resident is injured as a result of abuse. Cases where a facility takes steps to cover up abuse is not uncommon.

Residents of nursing home who are victims of sexual abuse, whether the assault involved rape or molestation, suffer immense emotional distress. They can also suffer physical harm and their health is at risk.

Sexual predators may be staff members, fellow residents, family members or strangers. Because many nursing homes are understaffed, sexual predators and other abusive individuals have plenty of opportunity to hurt a vulnerable adult. Nursing home staff members can abuse a resident because they have easy access and constant contact.

The signs of sexual abuse are similar the signs of other nursing home abuse. The elderly victim can become depressed and withdrawn. They also display physical signs such as bruising and pain in the genital and breast region. If you suspect your loved one is being sexually abused, you should speak to them immediately and try to confirm your suspicions. Should you find your suspicions are true, it’s then time to contact a nursing home abuse attorney and see what your next actions should be.

When the unthinkable has happed to your elderly loved one, a nursing home abuse attorney can give you guidance and advise you on what steps you need to take. You and your loved one could be entitled to compensation if a nursing home was negligent and failed to protect their residents from harm.