Sexual abuse of elderly tragically common in care facilities

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Many people have found themselves making a difficult decision regarding the care of an elderly loved one. As we get older, our physical and mental capabilities start to decline and the need for increased or constant care may be inevitable. It can certainly be a difficult decision regarding whether or not a loved one should be placed in a care facility, but it is something that many people across Tennessee deal with every day.

One of the reasons that this can be such a hard decision is that we want to make sure our loved ones are treated with compassion, respect and dignity by others. Sadly, there is no guarantee that they will receive this level of care, especially if a care provider is abusive or negligent.

Tragically, there are a number of care providers who take advantage of the fact that their patients suffer physical and cognitive limitations that make them particularly vulnerable to mistreatment. In some cases, abusive caregivers subject an elderly patient to sexual abuse which many victims cannot or do not report. Because many elderly people who require care often suffer from memory loss or dementia, cruel parties believe that they can do whatever they want without consequence. The truth is that victims of this type of abuse are often reluctant to report the abuse, if they are even able to. Some victims cannot verbalize their situations, while others feel as though no one would believe them or they are scared that they could lose the necessary assistance provided by the caregiver. In any case, too many victims of this type of abuse suffer in silence.

It can be difficult to spot the signs of sexual abuse, but it is certainly not impossible. Family members and loved ones should take care to pay close attention to an elderly person’s physical and mental well-being. During visits, people can keep an eye out for red flags of abuse which include bruising or abrasions and even a sense that an elderly person has rehearsed answers to questions about their care or injuries. Even if a person cannot verbally report the abuse on his or her own, family members and loved ones can stand up to abusive care providers and protect the victim.

Source: Gloucester Times, “Elderly abuse: Why they don’t report it,” Anne Springer, April 26, 2013