Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes: Detection and Prevention

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in San Clemente or elsewhere in San Diego County, it is important to learn more about sexual abuse and how it affects seniors. Nursing home abuse and neglect often involves physical or mental abuse of the elderly, but it can also include sexual abuse. Sometimes perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing home settings are staff members, while in some situations other residents themselves may be the perpetrators.

A recent article in Reuters emphasized that the #MeToo movement is having an important effect across the country: More victims are reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual abuse. We would like to focus on how this larger societal shift in addressing sexual assault and abuse can influence victims of sexual abuse in the nursing home setting. We will consider recent discussions of elder sex abuse and then discuss methods of detection and prevention.

Turning Media Attention to Sexual Abuse in the Nursing Home Setting

According to a recent article from TruthDig, “thanks to this year’s media attention, sexual abuse in nursing homes is beginning to get the notice it deserves.” Primarily women are affected by elder sex abuse in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and seniors who have been victimized “are often hampered by cognitive and physical disorders, making it difficult or impossible for them to report it themselves.” According to Julie Schoen, a spokesperson with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), “the problem is that the population is vulnerable and often unable to communicate . . . .  That’s what makes it such a hidden crime.”

To put that another way, it may be even more difficult for elderly women to report sexual abuse because, in addition to the sheer trauma of the abuse, they have additional medical and psychiatric conditions that can impede on the ability to report. If seniors may be even less likely to report sexual abuse than younger victims, what can we do to ensure that sexual abuse in nursing homes is detected, stopped, and punished accordingly? The article underscores the importance of “educating families and care workers to look for telltale signs.”

Detecting and Preventing Elder Sexual Abuse

As the article highlights, elder sexual abuse can take many different forms, from “touching and kissing to outright rape.” Like we mentioned, staff members at long-term care facilities often are the ones who commit elder sex abuse, but other residents can also be the ones to perpetrate these violent acts.

One of the best ways to detect and prevent elder sexual abuse is to ensure that employees in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) are trained to identify and report signs of nursing home sex abuse. However, as the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) stress, long-term care employees in California are only required to have 160 hours of training. As such, “many workers aren’t adequately prepared to serve residents skillfully and respectfully—and they also aren’t able to recognize signs of sexual abuse by other workers.”

Seek Advice from a San Clemente Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

We need to do more to train nursing home staff members when it comes to elder sexual abuse. In the meantime, if you are worried about a family member or friend in a Southern California long-term care facility, you should reach out to a San Clemente nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

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Stopping Oceanside Nursing Home Evictions

(image courtesy of Jorge Lopez)

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