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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Friday, June 21, 2019

Preventing Sexual Abuse in the Nursing Home

As our parents age, our ability to properly care for them around the clock becomes more and more difficult. Nursing homes are utilized so that elderly individuals can have a safe, compassionate place to be looked after and cared for. Unfortunately, due to common physical and cognitive impairments that the elderly experience, they are also prime targets for abuse and neglect. 

Elderly Population Remains Vulnerable

Elder abuse includes abandonment, exploitation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. What makes the elderly population most vulnerable to abuse is a combination of social isolation and mental impairment. Nearly half of those suffering from dementia have experienced abuse or neglect. 

Approximately 1 in every 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced a form of elder abuse. It has been estimated that as many as 5 million elders are abused annually. Equally alarming is the fact that one study even estimated that only 1 in every 14 cases of elder abuse is actually reported to authorities. Elders who have experienced abuse are 300% more likely to die than those who have not.

Types of Elder Abuse

There are several types of elder abuse. Such types include:

  • Confinement – The isolation or restraining of an older adult, other than for medical purposes.
  • Emotional abuse – Threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation, as ell as verbal assaults of an older adult. 
  • Financial exploitation – The withholding or misuse of an older adult’s resources.
  • Passive neglect – The failure of an older adult’s caregiver to provide him or her with necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, and medical care.
  • Physical abuse – The infliction of pain or injury to the person of an older adult.
  • Willful deprivation – The exposure of an older adult to physical, mental, or emotional harm through the denial of necessary care such as food, shelter, medication, medical care, physical assistance, and medical devices. An exception to this occurs when a competent older adult has expressed that he or she does not want the care in question.
  • Sexual abuse – Any type of non-consensual sexual contact or activity of an older adult such as touching, fondling, or intercourse. The inability to understand prohibits the elder from giving consent.

While there are warning signs that can be identified for other types of elder abuse, sexual abuse of elders can be extremely difficult to identify. What’s more, in 2004 and 2005, the California Elder Abuse Prevention Program received 44,701 complaints of sexual abuse from residents of nursing homes. 

So What Can You Do to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?

Though there are many things that can be done to help increase the chances of preventing sexual abuse of elders, it is extremely important to keep open communication with you, your elderly loved one, and their nursing home. It is also important to remain highly in tune and aware of the environment your loved one is in. Additionally, listen to what your loved one has to say. Assembling a team of advocates can be very helpful for working on risk prevention. 

If you believe that your loved one has suffered any of the above-mentioned types of abuse, it is extremely important to get the help that you need in order to get the justice that you and they deserve. At Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning, Inc., we help those in California whose loved ones have experienced elder abuse. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, visit us online or call us at 925-275-5509 today! 


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