Protecting Seniors in Vista from Sexual Abuse or Assault in a Nursing Home

jyotirmoy-gupta-443923-unsplash-copy-300x200Nursing home abuse and neglect in Vista should be considered an important public health issue of concern to any resident of San Diego County, especially someone with an elderly loved one who resides in a nursing home. Yet common public perceptions about elder abuse often mean that people assume abuse either is physical or emotional, and that neglect also results only in physical or emotional harm. It is extremely important to recognize how sexual abuse and assault are also forms of nursing home abuse that can affect older adults, and understand how to protect a loved one from this form of abuse in a California nursing facility. 

According to a recent report from CNN Health, sexual abuse and assault happens more often than most people believe in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and perpetrators can vary widely—from staff members to other residents of the facility.

Families Should be Aware of the Risk of Sexual Abuse and Assault in Long Term Care Facilities

The first step in protecting an elderly loved one from sexual abuse or assault in a long term care facility is recognizing that this type of abuse occurs, according to the report. To be sure, “this is something we should all be worried about, just as we have to worry about falls or bed sores,” the report says. While news agencies typically report extreme cases of sexual abuse and assault resulting in debilitating physical and emotional injuries, this type of abuse also can take on subtler forms.

Elder abuse and neglect is largely underreported. However, sexual abuse and assault at nursing homes is even more severely underreported. It occurs more frequently than many health care providers may know, let alone family members who are looking for signs and symptoms of abuse. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, there are not always clear physical signs of sexual abuse or assault for family members who are visiting seniors at nursing homes, especially when those seniors suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Cases Have Been Mishandled in the Past

While there is always a risk that nursing home abuse cases will not be handled properly and that seniors will continue to suffer injuries, a CNN investigation from 2017 determined that at least 1,000 nursing homes that we know about “mishandl[ed] or fail[ed] to prevent alleged cases of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse at their facilities between 2013 and 2016.” As the report underscores, “that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.” In a large number of those facilities, there were other allegations of elder abuse during the same period.

What can family members do to protect their elderly loved ones from elder sexual abuse? First, choose a facility carefully. If it has been subject to complaints concerning any form of elder abuse or cited for a violation in the past, your loved one could be at risk. Then, look for signs of sexual abuse, which can include bruises around the person’s inner thighs or breasts, unexplained sexually transmitted infections, unexplained vaginal or anal pain or bleeding, torn clothing, emotional withdrawal, panic attacks, and difficulty sitting or walking.

Contact a Vista Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you need help filing an elder abuse claim, a Vista nursing home abuse lawyer can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about the advocacy services we provide for elderly nursing home residents and their families.


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