According to the National Council on Aging, sexual abuse in nursing homes consists of fondling, touching, penetrating, or engaging in other forms of sexual activity with a senior who is unable to understand and unwilling to consent. In most sexual abuse cases, the elderly person is physically forced, threatened, and made to feel afraid.
Sometimes, they are unable to communicate their disproval of the sexual activity against them or recollect the event due to dementia or other cognitive diseases. If your loved one has been sexually abused in a nursing home facility, you may want to consider taking legal action against the nursing home and perpetrators.
Residents Likely to Be Sexually Abused in a Nursing Home
The victims of sexual abuse in nursing homes are typically residents who are more vulnerable, defenseless, and too afraid to report the abuse. Generally speaking, sexual abusers are most likely to target the following types of residents:
- Those who have been isolated from friends, family, and other loved ones
- Residents with disabilities that make it difficult or impossible for them to communicate verbally or otherwise
- Residents suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other mental cognitive impairments
- Those who are subjected to other forms of elderly abuse such as physical, emotional, and financial abuse
Elderly women represent almost 66 percent of sexual abuse victims, but men are just as vulnerable to this type of abuse, according to an issue brief from The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.
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Signs of Sexual Abuse in the Elderly
Unlike physical abuse, the signs of sexual abuse are not always obvious. This is why you have to look out for physical and behavioral changes in your loved one.
- Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including social isolation, hypervigilance, agitation, hostility, irritability, and self-destructive behavior
- Bleeding from the genitals or anus
- Pain or irritation of the genitals, breasts, thighs, or anus
- Unexplained pelvic injury
- Problems with sitting or standing
- Bruises on the genitals or inner thighs
- Engaging in inappropriate or aggressive sexual activities
- Torn, bloody, or stained underwear
- Testing positive for sexually transmitted infections and diseases
- Severe panic attacks and irrational fear of being alone
- Self-imposed isolation or emotional isolation from others
- Engaging in acts of self-harm and suicide attempts
The Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Nursing home sexual abusers often target residents who are very vulnerable and less likely to retaliate or report the abuse. These perpetrators often fall into the following groups of people:
- Staff members. While some nursing home caregivers do not engage in any form of elderly abuse and provide a high standard of care, others are attracted to the role due to the abundance of vulnerable people they can abuse. Since the abusive caregivers have unrestricted access to residents, they can take advantage of those who may need help to use the bathroom, bathe, and dress. It is the responsibility of nursing homes to perform background checks on caregivers before hiring them and implement effective monitoring policies to prevent any form of inappropriate behavior that harms residents.
- Other residents. An abusive nursing home resident can intentionally target and abuse another resident. Sometimes the abuse is not intentional but a result of mental impairments and confusion on behalf of the abuser. This is why nursing homes have a duty of care to monitor the interaction between residents to prevent these situations from occurring in the first place. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable and asked to pay monetary compensation to the victim for their pain and suffering.
- Family members. Family members of the resident can also be sexually abusive toward them. Once the resident is in the nursing home’s care, they have a duty to protect them from their own family and ensure the people who visit them do not hurt or abuse them in any way.
- Third-party. From medical salesmen and vendors to medical care providers, there are so many people who move in and out of the nursing home. If a vulnerable resident is left without protection, they can be attacked by a third-party perpetrator.
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Sexual abuse in nursing homes can be prevented if the facilities hire the caregivers and implement effective monitoring systems to protect the residents they have been entrusted with.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one has been sexually abused and want to explore your legal options, we can help you. We will fight for compensation for their injuries and ensure their rights are protected. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call us now at 800-959-1444.
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