Elder Sexual Abuse
Any type of abuse in a nursing home environment is wrong and a crime. Under the Minnesota Nursing Homes Residents Bill of Rights, all residents have the right to “be free from harm, including abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.” Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse in nursing homes but elder sexual abuse also occurs behind closed doors. No one wants to think that this could be happening to a family member. Elder sexual abuse can be one of the hardest things to admit to and to overcome but it is incredibly important for the welfare of all residents that any act of sexual abuse be reported to a nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
Physical, Psychological and Elder Sexual Abuse of Nursing Home Residents
Elder sexual abuse usually happens behind closed doors. The criminal will often attack at night and will leave the victim feeling disgusted and ashamed. Furthermore, sexual abuse often comes with mental abuse as well. Name calling, treating the residents in a demeaning or threatening manner and harassment all fall under the category of verbal abuse. In many instances, a resident will be intimated by verbal abuse and will not report the sexual or physical abuse due to fear and shame or a fear that they will not be believed. Resident’s are also fearful that if they cause a problem they will be forced out of the facility and have nowhere to go. Be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms of elder sexual abuse in a resident:
- Any physical cuts, scratches or bruising
- Signs of depression or anxiety
- Extreme fear or nervousness, especially when an employee is present
- Mood changes
- Weight loss or weight gain
Sexual abuse can lead to severe emotional complications including low self esteem, suicidal thoughts and depression. It is critical for the welfare of all residents that sexual abuse be stopped immediately.
Minnesota Statute 145.4712, sets forth the requirments for Emergency Care to Sexual Assault Victim including information about the administration of prophylactic antibiotics for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
What To Do if You Suspect Elder Sexual Abuse
Minnesota law requires caregivers to be mandated reporters of abuse and neglect and maltreatment of adults, pursuant to Minnesota Statute 626.557, Subd. 1. The legislature declares that the public policy of this state is to protect adults who, because of physical or mental disability or dependency on institutional services, are particularly vulnerable to maltreatment; to assist in providing safe environments for vulnerable adults; and to provide safe institutional or residential services, community-based services, or living environments for vulnerable adults who have been maltreated.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused sexually, then you need to speak to them about it. Often times the resident will feel so ashamed that they will deny anything is wrong. Look for the signs of nursing home sexual and mental abuse, as listed above, and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities. By contacting an experienced nursing home sexual abuse lawyer, you are ensuring that all residents, both present and future, are protected against this criminal behavior.
In many cases, elder sexual abuse occurs because the nursing staff has not been given a proper background check during the hiring process. Most nursing homes are understaffed with high rates of turnover thus the nursing home may often have a need to overlook hiring protocols designed to protect the safety of the residents. It is the law that all nursing staff have a criminal background check but this is often waived due to the high demand for staff. In many instances, a nurse with a history of abuse will still be able to find work in nursing homes or other form of elder care facility, despite having been placed on a watch list. Often times elder sexual abuse of nursing home residents is a preventable form of neglect if the facility management would have the required background checks for new employees as well as enough staff to ensure the residents are well supervised, reducing the likelihood of sexual assaults.
Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Sometimes it is difficult to determine if there was an incident of abuse or neglect suffered by a nursing home resident. Due to the complex nature of the care needs of many residents it is not always immediately evident if a person’s condition is the result of declining health or a disease process or due to either physical abuse or more subtly neglect.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other care facility that serves the elderly in Minnesota, Kenneth LaBore provides a free consultation and information regarding the obligations of the facility and your rights as a resident or concerned family member.