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Sex offenders live unidentified in nursing homes

In Ohio, sheriffs are required to notify neighbors when sexual predators live near by and enforce laws prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. Nursing home residents are not exempt from these laws, but because the intent of the laws is to protect children and because elder abuse is an overlooked crisis in America, nursing home residents are forced, unknowingly, to live in homes shared with sex offenders and other criminals. With nursing home abuse and neglect being an important problem we face today, it is important to make sure loved ones are safe, protected and cared for- not at danger of sexual assault and misconduct. The Ohio state legislature is debating a bill that would require nursing homes to disclose the presence of sexual offenders to new or prospective patients. In one instance, a family placed an 18-year-old mentally retarded woman in a long term care facility but was unaware of the presence of sexual predators. Eventually, the home’s failure to supervise residents convicted of sexual offenses allowed the woman to be raped by a sexual predator previously convicted of raping three women. It is going to be important, in the face of a growing elder population, to raise awareness of the many hazards of nursing home care.

Contacting elder advocates like ombudsmen and elder law attorneys can help send nursing homes the message that we are paying attention. They can not get away with underfunding homes, allowing for abuse and neglect, while the owners are pocketing excess cash. Contacting state agencies, advocates and elder law attorneys is the first step toward deterring nursing homes from continuing in their careless practices.

This is a situation where residents and families are harmed while nursing homes, sexual offenders and the state gain benefits. Nursing homes are allowed to make higher profits by retaining more residents that are unaware of the dangers of the home. Sexual offenders have free reign while they ought to be carefully supervised. The state is rewarded because offenders can’t get subsidized housing so their presence in nursing homes is funded by Medicare, a federal program, and not state agencies. We, as a country, need to become more aware of the dangers facing our elderly population, especially as that population is expected to grow exponentially in the near future, because not enough people are fighting for their rights.

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