Let’s be perfectly clear: Sexual abuse and assault are motivated by a desire to exert power over someone else, not lust. That’s why anybody can become a victim of sexual assault, regardless of their age or gender – including your elderly loved one.
Numerous investigations have discovered that vulnerable patients in nursing homes have fallen victim to sexual assault. While caregivers are largely responsible, assaults can also come from other patients.
How do nursing homes react? In large part, they ignore it or cover it up. When they ignore it, they often cite the difficulty of trying to pin down what happened because of a senior’s failing memory or inability to identify their attackers. When they cover it up, it’s usually to hide a pervasive problem and their own failings. In both cases, the facilities put their reputations (and finances) ahead of patients.
How do you spot the signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home?
First, you need to know who is most vulnerable. Female residents with dementia are the most likely victims, but everyone who has a loved one in nursing care should be on the lookout for things like:
- Instances where a loved one is found unclothed or inappropriately exposed
- Bruising on a loved one’s inner thighs, wrists (where they may have been held down), breasts or genitals that cannot be easily explained
- Sexually transmitted diseases that suddenly appear in someone with no known history of the disease
- Statements, however muddled or confused, where the senior recounts being hurt or abused by a caregiver or another patient
- Sudden changes in a senior’s mental state, especially if they become withdrawn or fearful
- Extreme agitation from a senior who cannot communicate very well when a certain caregiver or another patient approaches them
If you suspect that your loved one has been sexually abused or assaulted while in nursing care, take action immediately. Experienced legal guidance can help you navigate the situation.