Nursing Homes and Sexual Abuse

Nursing Home BedMiami, FL-Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision for a family to make, but it can be unavoidable. When we place someone we care about in a long term care facility we hope and expect that they will be protected from harm and cared for, that’s why they are put there in the first place. Unfortunately, seniors or disabled persons are vulnerable to a host of abuses in nursing homes including sexual abuse.

It’s unthinkable, the idea that someone would rape, or touch a relatively defenseless person, but the elderly and the disabled make perfect victims for sexual predators.

According to the National Center on Elderly Abuse, a recent study found that 7.6 percent to 10 percent of nursing home residents said they had been abused in the past year. This, however, may not give the entire scope of the problem and experts agree we don’t know for sure how many people are abused by their caregivers.

Neglect, financial, physical or emotional abuse can happen in nursing homes is a major issue, but sexual abuse is an affront to our morals and the one of the worst things that can happen in a long term care facility. Nursing home residents are perfect targets for sexual predators; they are unable to protect themselves and many of them are unable to tell their loved ones that they have been sexually abused.

A large number of nursing home residents are vulnerable to abuse because they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s and cannot remember what happened to them or speak about it when it does. Seniors can also be weaker than the sexual predator and cannot fight back or resist.

Victims of sexual abuse, whether it is rape or molestation, and regardless of their age suffer great emotional and physical pain that puts their well-being and even their lives in jeopardy.

Sexual predators can be staff members, other residents, family members or strangers who walk in off the streets since most nursing homes have lax security and can be woefully understaffed. Family members can also be sexually abusive, though it is hard for most people to fathom that.

A nursing home staff member can sexually abuse patients because they have constant and easy access to their victims and buy their silence though threats of withholding their necessary medications, food or other care. Nursing home resident who are sexual predators also have easy access to a pool of vulnerable victims. If the predator is a staff member, another resident or a stranger who has gained access to a facility, the nursing home is almost always liable.

The signs of sexual abuse are similar to those of other nursing home abuses. A resident can become depressed or withdrawn. They can also display physical signs of abuse such as bruising and pain in the genital region. If you suspect that your family member is being sexually abused in a long term care facility, they may be eligible for compensation. It is advisable that you speak to a nursing home abuse attorney to see what you course of action should be.