The elderly and vulnerable in nursing homes are being sexually abused and raped at a rate that is higher than we could have imagined. Those shocking facts come from a new report released by CNN, which finds that many incidents of rape involving elderly members of nursing homes are not even being prosecuted.
Even worse, people who are in a position to stop this abuse, including nursing home authorities and even government officials, are not doing much about this problem. The challenge in identifying and punishing the perpetrators responsible for the sexual abuse and rape epidemic in nursing homes, is twofold: In many cases, victims are old, suffer from advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and are simply unable to speak about, or remember what happened. They’re not able to relate their experience, and therefore, it becomes more challenging for the nursing home to procure evidence about any assault that has occurred.
Another even more insidious challenge is the widespread culture of negligence and apathy that seems to exist in the industry. When CNN experts reviewed many of the cases of sexual abuse that occurred in nursing homes, they found that there was negligence at every stage. In many cases, nursing homes were made aware of the assault, but very slow to investigate what happened. In other cases, the nursing home quickly jumped to protect its own staff and employees, and refused to seriously investigate the allegations. In other cases, nursing homes simply brushed aside family members’ concerns as the elderly person’s hallucinations or delusions.
The police also often fumble their responsibility towards victims as well. It is reported that officers were unwilling to believe the victims because of the victim’s failing memory, and other credibility issues. Because of all the issues involved in reporting sexual abuse and investigating nursing homes, the federal government has also failed to warn institutions that have had incidents of abuse reported on their premises. Besides, the federal system, including the one followed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, does not specifically identify sexual abuse as a separate category, but lumps all types of abuse into a single category. This makes identification of rape cases even more difficult.
All of these failures and challenges work together to deny victims justice and ensure that perpetrators of these facilities are able to get away with their actions, sometimes for years. In at least one case, the perpetrator who was caught in the act of raping an 88-year-old woman at a facility had similar allegations leveled at the earlier facilities for which he worked. That, however, did not prevent him from getting a job with his new employer.
If your loved one is currently in a nursing home, be alert to any changes, however minor, in personality and demeanor, and report any cases of abuse immediately to the authorities. The Indiana nursing home abuse attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons who have suffered abuse in nursing homes and elderly care facilities across Indiana.