Sexual Abuse of the Elderly in Nursing Homes
When a caregiver or another person makes unwanted sexual contact or penetration with elderly individuals, that is known as sexual abuse of the elderly. Unfortunately, older adults are vulnerable to these perpetrators, and victims are targets because they may be perceived as easy to overpower. Often, elderly abuse victims are unlikely to report the incident, even if signs of abuse are present. Sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable under any circumstances. Turning to a nursing home sexual abuse lawyer at the Mark Casto Law Firm may help to answer your legal questions, and ensure your loved one receives the justice they deserve. Schedule an appointment by calling (706) 940-4030.
Types of Elder Sexual Abuse
Elder abuse takes on many forms. Individuals in nursing homes rely on trained personnel to care for their medical needs. In some situations, they can become victims of elder sexual abuse. Some elements of elder sexual abuse include:
Physical Sexual Assault
This type of sexual behavior or contact occurs without consent. Sexual assaults on the elderly can involve:
- Forcing someone to perform a sexual act, such as oral sex
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Rape and attempted rape
These unwelcomed sexual advances can include a request for a sexual favor, verbal or physical harassment, or engaging in conversations that may be sexual in nature.
Unable To Consent
When sexual contact occurs with someone incapable of giving consent, that is considered sexual abuse. Sadly, non-consensual sexual contact can occur in nursing homes, and it is one of the least reported types of elder sexual abuse.
Why Does Elder Sexual Abuse Occur?
Many older victims cannot give consent due to health conditions, such as a stroke, Alzheimer's disease, or dementia. These victims are vulnerable to coerced nudity, sexually explicit photography, sexual assault, and unwanted touching. Many of these victims depend on their caregivers for the simplest tasks, including eating, bathing, and changing clothes. Since they have less physical strength, they often cannot resist attacks or defend themselves, especially when the abuser is stronger and younger. Those with mental impairment, memory loss, and physical disabilities are vulnerable. Elderly women are more likely to be abused than their male counterparts.
Most of these elder sexual abuse claims stem from nursing homes and other care facilities. Caregivers, other residents, employees, and visitors are often the perpetrators. Due to the victim's isolation from spouses, friends, and family, these types of sexual incidents are less reported. Social isolation is one of the main factors for elder sexual abuse. With no family members or friends living near the facility, many of these residents become easy prey for sexual abusers. Being socially isolated means the victim has no way to ask for help or report the situation. Sometimes, the abuser can isolate the victim and prevent the individual from alerting the authorities about the abuse. The abuser could control the victim's phone, mail, and other forms of communication. For that reason, it is vital to know the signs of sexual abuse in the elderly. Signs of sexual abuse may mean that the nursing home was negligent to a loved one. Speaking to a nursing home sexual abuse lawyer at Mark Casto Law Firm may help answer any of your questions about these incidents.
Elderly Sexual Abuse Signs
Sexual abuse of the elderly can be hard to detect, especially when the victim is isolated in a nursing home. Family members often must rely on the staff to discuss any issues with their loved ones. If the abuser is a member of the caregiving team, then loved ones may not know the extent of the sexual abuse. In many cases, there may be common physical and behavioral signs associated with these unwanted incidents. Even if an individual shows these signs, it is not always attributed to sexual abuse; however, you should investigate the matter further to determine if a loved one has been abused in a nursing home.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, there are a few indications of physical signs of sexual abuse, and they may include:
- Bruising of inner thighs, breasts, or genitals
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Bleeding, pain, or irritation of the genitals or anus
- Increase difficulty in sitting or walking for extended periods
- Pain when moving bowels or urinating
- Stained, tattered, or bloody undergarments
Physical signs are not the only indicators of elder sexual abuse. Behavioral signs may be present, such as:
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Fear or anxiety when using the bathroom
- Anxiety, inability to focus, agitation, and changes in mood
- Displaying signs of post-traumatic stress disorder
- Suicide attempts
- Changes in eating habits
- Having an unusual relationship with a caregiver
- Refusal to discuss events with friends or family
- Sleeping problems and nightmares
- Trouble swallowing or having a fear of objects near their mouth
- Negative view of the victim's body, especially the genital area
- New fear of specific people or places
Reporting Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
If there is suspicion that elder sexual abuse has occurred, family members or caregivers must report the incident to the proper authorities. In Georgia, concerned individuals can contact the Georgia Department of Community Health. Often, the state assigns an investigator to the case. Investigators will talk to victims of elder sexual abuse while an investigation into the person's background and living circumstances continues.
In some cases, the nursing home could be at fault for failing to provide a safe environment for its residents. Nursing homes must thoroughly investigate their staff members and caregivers who enter the facilities. Additionally, visitors and other patients should be screened before being allowed into the nursing home. Often, nursing home negligence can lead to sexual abuse.
Speak To a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today
When leaving a loved one in a nursing home, families expect their safety and health needs to be the top priority. Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to protect their residents, leaving them vulnerable to sexual abuse. Knowing the signs of sexual abuse of the elderly may help to determine whether your loved one has been a victim. If you suspect an incident of elder sexual abuse, contact The Mark Casto Law Firm for a consultation by calling (706) 940-4030.