Dementia Residents Are Easy Targets for Nursing Home Abusers and Bullies
For nursing home residents with dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, daily care is largely dependent on others. Nursing home workers of many types assist these patients in managing daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating, exercising, managing their medications, and even overseeing finances. Dementia patients require extra attention and guided support as they are naturally prone to higher personal injury rates, infection, and falls but also more likely to become a victim of abuse and neglect, have their privacy violated and also be bullied by both nursing home workers and other residents. All residents, no matter what their situation, have the right to privacy, dignity, respect, and freedom. They should be treated with consideration and be free from all types of mental and physical abuse.
It’s important to remember that nursing homes must meet these federal residents’ rights requirements to continue participation in Medicare or Medicaid. If not, they must be held accountable.
Illinois Care Staff Caught Videotaping the Bullying of Their Dementia Patients
The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti are currently representing the family of a patient who was repeatedly harassed by two previous employees of Abington of Glenview Nursing Home in Glenview. The woman is Margaret Collins, a 91-year-old suffering from dementia. Her nursing home abuse case has gained national attention after an upsetting video posted to the popular social media app Snapchat showed aides taunting her with a hospital gown. In the video, Collins was visibly upset as she was seen attempting to swat the dress away through several moments of distress. One of the aides involved in the suit recorded the incident and later posted it to Snapchat with the caption, ‘Margaret hates gowns’ alongside several laughing emojis. Thankfully, a previous Glenview worker connected to the aide’s social platform saw the video and notified the woman’s family members.
In a similar case, Levin & Perconti filed a lawsuit in October 2018 on behalf of a 76-year-old man who was humiliated in a video filmed by nursing home aides employed by Holland Home in South Holland. The disturbing video shows one worker holding her phone and capturing the resident holding his adult diaper while another aide instructs the man to take off his pants. The video was posted to Facebook Live. The lawsuit alleged physical, sexual, and mental abuse and said that “employees maliciously abused the resident through remorseless taunts, mockery, and lewd suggestions for the purpose of coercing him into taking his pants off and exposing his genitals.”
Attorney Margaret Battersby Black also notes that it is unclear what other incidents of abuse may have taken place before the video or after the published incident. The male resident, who also has a form of dementia, had not told his family about the humiliating situation. This caused concern among that this incident could be just one of many that happened to him and potentially others.
Over the last decade, as the popularity of social media platforms and personal mobile phone use in the workplace have increased. And the number of incidents in which skilled nursing facility employees have been caught sharing inappropriate, abusive, degrading or embarrassing photos, texts, and videos that may exploit and violate a resident’s privacy and document abuse have sadly become more common as well.
Bullying Can Lead to Dementia Resident Abuse and Neglect
The Alzheimer’s Association reports approximately 1 to 2 million cases of elder abuse incidences each year for dementia residents living in community settings. Most long-term care ombudsman agree accurate rates are likely to be much higher though because the abuse, neglect, and even bullying is not always accurately reported and can present in many different ways.
- Physical: causing physical pain or injury
- Emotional: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment and intimidation
- Neglect: failure to provide necessities, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care or a safe environment
- Confinement: restraining or isolating the person
- Financial: the misuse or withholding of the person’s financial resources (money, property) to his or her disadvantage or the advantage of someone else
- Sexual abuse: touching, fondling or any sexual activity when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened or physically forced
- Willful deprivation: willfully denying the person privacy, medication, medical care, food, shelter or physical assistance, and thereby exposing the individual with Alzheimer’s to the risk of physical, mental or emotional harm
- Self-neglect: Due to lack of insight and cognitive changes, a person with Alzheimer’s may be unable to safely and adequately provide for day-to-day needs, and may be at risk for harm, falls, wandering and/or malnutrition.
Identifying bullying and abuse can be especially hard for people with dementia. Some people living with this incurable disease are unable to communicate and can also become delusional in moments of confusion or angst, making it difficult for family or friends to believe such claims against care staff or other residents. If your loved one has expressed behavioral or physical changes which are leading you to feelings of concern, act quickly to question their care team and demand answers from administrative staff.
Respected Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
Levin & Perconti has become one of the most widely-known and respected nursing home abuse and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million-dollar verdicts and settlements. If a loved one has sustained serious injuries resulting from abuse or neglect at a nursing home, or you have been notified that they were bullied through the use of social media, your family may be entitled to compensation.
These cases are sensitive, and there is a time limit to file in Illinois, so please contact us now for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Also, if you are an employee of a nursing home and witness to a resident being mistreated, you are protected against any form of retaliation and are encouraged to report what you know immediately.