Living in a nursing home or elder facility should allow you or your loved ones to enjoy their golden years but abuse can and does happen. You are reading this page, because:
- Your or a loved one has been sexually abused in a a nursing home
- You want to see legal advise, and know our rights
- You want justice, and hold those who allowed this to happen be held accountable
The legal team at Abuse Guardian know this area, and are here to help.
Facilities that allow abuse to happen, must be held accountable.
"Thank you." My family and I felt like we were being taken care of with Brian and his team of staff.
Entrusting someone else with the care of an elder loved one is never easy.
Unfortunately, most families don't have the time or resources to care for their older parents, grandparents, and other relatives when they can no longer care for themselves.
Nursing homes and care facilities provide this much-needed service, but the system is rife with problems. Families across the country have been devastated to find out that a loved one has been sexually assaulted in a facility which is supposed to help them live their last years comfortably.
When you have a family member with deteriorating health, you prepare yourself for a phone call telling you that they've passed away. But no one is ever prepared to hear that an older loved one has been raped or sexually assaulted.
For many people, it's unimaginable to think that a nurse, aide, or another employee could be capable of such a horrendous crime. But it's important to take these types of allegations seriously and to hold both the perpetrators and negligent institutions accountable for their actions.
Why Older Sexual Assault Victims Are Denied Justice
When a senior citizen is victimized in a nursing home sexual assault, it's often difficult to find justice for the victim. The predators who commit these crimes often see the elderly as easy targets, since many elderly people have conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's which might prevent others from believing their accusations. Additionally, nursing homes and government bodies which oversee them often do little to nothing to stop these crimes or to prosecute offenders.
Common hurdles faced by older sexual assault victims and their families include:
- Victim can't remember details of assault or identify perpetrator
- Investigators don't believe the victim's allegations
- Nursing homes are hesitant to investigate or report allegations of sexual abuse
- Nursing home officials may deny the abuse to preserve their public image
- Regulators fail to flag caregivers for repeated allegations
Like any other claim of sexual abuse, we must take senior citizens seriously when they speak out. Both regulatory officials and nursing homes need to do more to investigate these claims and to reprimand employees who have been accused of elder sexual abuse in the past.
Who Else Assaults Nursing Home Residents?
Nursing home employees aren't the only ones who are committing sexual assault against residents. Other possible perpetrators include:
- Other residents - Most nursing homes are co-ed and have both genders frequently mingling together. It's normal for consensual sexual relationships to develop in these environments, but sometimes one resident may sexually abuse another through nonconsensual sexual contact. Like predatory employees, these residents often choose victims who are physically weak, suffering from mental conditions like Alzheimer's, or are unable to speak. It's up to the nursing home to be properly staffed and have qualified supervisors who can prevent these crimes from occurring.
- Strangers and intruders - Sometimes unauthorized visitors may enter nursing home facilities because of negligence on the part of an employee or the nursing home itself. For example, the nursing home may have inadequate security or a front desk employee may have left their post to smoke or use the bathroom. If a stranger enters a nursing home and assaults a patient, the facility could be held liable for failing to protect their residents.
- Family members - In approximately 60% of total elder abuse cases (not just sexual abuse), the perpetrator is a family member. In cases of elder sexual abuse, this can occur when a resident's spouse continues to expect the same sexual relationship despite the resident's current mental condition. Just because there has historically been consent in their relationship does not mean that there will always be consent. Nursing home staff members may be hesitant to report this type of sexual assault and instead rationalize it as normal marital relations.
Examples Of Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing homes need to do more to protect their residents from potential abusers. An accusation of sexual assault or abuse needs to be taken just as seriously as if a young child made the accusation. Far too often, multiple parties could have prevented an assault. Common forms of nursing home negligence include:
- Failing to properly screen new employees for histories of sexual abuse
- Failing to provide adequate security to keep intruders out
- Inadequate staffing and lack of supervision
- Employees haven't been trained to recognize signs of sexual assault
- Nursing home investigators immediately dismissing allegations
There is no excuse for sexual assault being such a widespread problem in our nursing homes. An in-depth nursing home sexual abuse study by CNN found that "victims and their families were failed at every stage." We must do more to ensure that our senior citizens live their twilight years with dignity and respect.
Legal Options For Victims & Families
If your family has been affected by this widespread tragedy, you may find yourself feeling frustrated. It may feel like no one cares, as nursing home employees and even the police might have dismissed your relative's allegations as a fantasy or hallucination. In these cases, it's often necessary to hire a victims' rights attorney who will fight for your family's interests.
A civil lawyer can help you in areas where the criminal justice system, state regulatory bodies, and nursing home officials have failed you. They can investigate your loved one's nursing home to make sure they did everything in their power to both prevent incidents like this from occurring and to punish those who commit these crimes.
Filing a lawsuit against these entities may eventually lead to reform as more and more families speak out about this national crisis. If nursing homes are forced to operate more responsibly, that means fewer victims will have to suffer from sexual assault and abuse. Additionally, it can provide your family with the financial compensation you need and deserve while recovering from this harrowing experience.