We expect that our loved ones will be safe when we allow them to receive care in a nursing home. Yet many elderly are abused and neglected while they reside in these types of facilities. It may seem unfathomable, but sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes across the country more often than we may think. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse can be dangerous for residents. Nursing home patients are at a 300% higher risk of death if they have been abused. Abuse of any type is not appropriate and sexual abusers must be punished legally.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is defined as any type of non-consensual physical contact. It may include molestation, rape, and any sexual contact with a person with limited mental capacity. It may also include contact with someone who is unable to provide consent due to Alzheimer’s or diminished mental capacity. If someone is unable to give consent, the sexual contact is considered abuse. In a nursing home, the perpetrator may be a caregiver, employee, attendant, fellow resident, or visitor. Sexual abuse most often happens to women, however sometimes it may occur to men as well.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse of an elderly person may be difficult to determine. Very often a sex crime occurs with a patient who is mentally incapacitated or who has limited physical or mental capabilities. These types of people may be more susceptible to abuse and neglect in nursing homes because they are less likely to report it. Signs of abuse may be either physical or behavioral.
· Genital pain or bleeding · Bruising near the genitalia or inner thighs · Difficulty walking or sitting · Stained undergarments · Change in demeanor · Depression · Sexually transmitted disease or infections
It is important to note that the person who is being abused may be reluctant to report it. The person may be embarrassed, or may feel that the abuse will worsen if it is reported. Sometimes the person does not remember the abuse or has been convinced that it is appropriate. A medical exam may be able to substantiate claims of abuse.
What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse
If you think your loved one may be the victim of sexual abuse it is important to contact the authorities. The abuse needs to stop immediately and appropriate action must be taken. The situation will be investigated immediately. It is also crucial that you speak with a qualified nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer understands the signs of nursing home abuse and will work to determine exactly what happened. If abuse has occurred you may be entitled to compensation to cover medical costs as well as money for pain and suffering and legal expenses. Legal action may be taken against the facility for allowing this type of abuse to occur.
If your relative has been harmed because of sexual abuse do not delay. Contact the experienced attorneys at Levin & Perconti to schedule a free confidential consultation.