Behind Closed Doors: Sexual Abuse Alleged at Nursing Home

Nursing Home Law Center Staff
What Happens Behind Closed Doors
Nursing homes are supposed to be a comfortable and safe haven for elderly individuals who are suffering from illnesses and require special medical attention. Families of the elderly people who reside in nursing homes want to be satisfied with the care their loved one is receiving and want the best for their elderly family members. When a family member makes the difficult decision of admitting their elderly loved one into a nursing home, they want to feel content that they are making the best decision for them.

The Issues with Nursing Homes

Unfortunately, nursing homes are not always an ideal place for the elderly. Nursing homes are increasingly becoming a dangerous place. With drops in nursing staff and lack of resources, many residents are not receiving adequate medical care. Elderly patients also suffer from various types of abuse, such as mental and physical abuse. These elderly patients suffer terribly and there can be debilitating physical and psychological damage. Another, more serious and devastating type of abuse, which occurs behind the closed doors of nursing homes, is sexual abuse.

Sexual Abuse of Elderly

Sexual abuse can cause severe psychological and physical damage to any individual who suffers from it. However, because of the frailty and vulnerability of elderly patients, the effects of sexual abuse are magnified considerably. These elderly patients rarely have anyone to whom they can voice their complaints and sometimes are in such frail conditions because of their illness, that they cannot speak at all. These residents are left unnoticed, neglected and the abuse can go on for a very long time before someone realizes what is going on. Sexual abuse in nursing homes usually occurs in two ways. The most common form of sexual abuse in nursing homes is perpetrated by other residents of the facility. Here, the staff of the nursing home is at fault for not supervising the individuals properly and failing to protect their residents.  Sexual abuse perpetrated by residents is dangerous as it can go unnoticed for quite some time. There have been cases of such abuse in many United States nursing homes and it is becoming more of a problem all around the country. The second type of sexual abuse that occurs in nursing homes is by the staff of the nursing home. Elderly patients are very vulnerable, both mentally and physically, and sometimes corrupt staff members take advantage of this. Sexual abuse by staff is even more dangerous and problematic because the patients are often afraid to speak out about such issues, especially when it involves someone in power. Sexual abuse undermines the dignity and the self-respect of its victims. These elderly individuals’ quality of life has been already at a disadvantage due to their illness or disease. Sexual abuse aggravates their physical and psychological problems, and can severely alter their health. Nursing homes have been established to be a comfortable and relaxing place for elderly individuals. It is a place that family members leave their loved ones and want to remain assured that their grandmother or their father, for example, is being given the best possible care. Nursing homes must once again become that safe haven where the elderly can rest and enjoy their days with security and peace.

Resources for Further Information

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