Greenville, SC- Deciding that an elderly loved one needs to be placed in a nursing home is difficult for many families. They first must choose the right South Carolina nursing home, which takes careful research, then hope they don’t come to harm or are neglected by their caregivers. But, unfortunately, some residents of nursing home and other long-term care facilities are subject to a variety of abuses, including sexual abuse.
It’s unthinkable; the thought that a person would rape, or touch a vulnerable and defenseless elderly person, but it is their vulnerability and inability to defend themselves that makes some residents of nursing homes susceptible to sexual abuse.
Over the past couple of months a number of stories where residents of nursing homes were raped by their caregivers have surfaced in the media. One case in New York and another in Minnesota gained national attention, but it occurs more frequently than it is reported.
In a study the National Council on Elderly Abuse and Neglect found that 7.6 percent to 10 percent of nursing home residents nationwide admitted that they had been abused within the past 12 months. Exactly how many seniors are subjected to abuse and neglect is hard to determine since many victims are afraid to tell others.
Neglect, financial, physical or emotional abuse is a major problem, but sexual abuse is an affront to our morals. While sexual abuse is less common than other abuses, it is one of the worst things that can happen to a person in a long term care facility. Residents of nursing homes are perfect targets for sexual predators; they are unable to protect themselves and often unable to tell others they have been sexually abused.
A large number of nursing home residents are vulnerable to all types of abuse because they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sometimes they cannot remember what happened to them or cannot to other about their abuse when it occurs. And in many cases, allegations of abuse from a resident who suffers from a cognitive disorder are not taken seriously or ignored altogether.
Victims of sexual abuse, whether it is rape or molestation, suffer great emotional and physical pain as a result of their abuse, putting their health and even their lives at risk.
Sexual predators can be staff members, other residents or strangers who walk in off the street since many nursing homes have lax security, and can be woefully understaffed. Family members can also sexually abuse an elderly person despite how hard it may be for people to fathom.
Staff of a nursing home can sexually abuse patients because they have constant contact and easy access to their victims. Abusers know that threatening to withhold a person’s necessary medications, food or other care will keep them silent about their abuse.
The signs of sexual abuse are similar to those of other abuses elders are subjected to. Sexual abuse can cause a resident to become depressed or withdrawn. They 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 nursing home they may be able to seek compensation for their emotional distress. Speaking with a Greenville nursing home abuse attorney will help an abuse victim determine if they are eligible for compensation.