Keeping Elderly Family Members in Maryland Nursing Homes Safe This Holiday Season

This holiday season, many friends and family members are planning to gather to celebrate. For our loved ones staying in nursing homes who may be unable to join, however, paying them a visit could both lift their spirits and allow you to check on their overall well-being. After all, when we send our family members to nursing homes, we entrust the care of our most vulnerable loved ones to them and their staff—and we should ensure that they are safe, well taken care of, and looked after.

According to a recent news report, a former nursing home staff member was indicted after allegedly sexually assaulting a resident. The former staff member was working as a housekeeper at the nursing home facility and allegedly raped an 81-year-old resident with dementia. As described in the indictment, the staff member, through forcible compulsion, assaulted the elderly and disabled victim in her room early in the morning. He was charged with rape in the first and second degree, a criminal sexual act in the first and second degree, and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree in New York.

Although sexual abuse in nursing homes is rare compared to other types of abuse that can take place, it may be because the rates of sexual abuse are underreported.

Based on a 2017 report from the World Health Organization, 0.7 percent of nursing home staff members reported sexually abusing residents, and 1.9 percent of nursing home residents or their guardians and loved ones reported sexual abuse. These numbers may be low, however, because of underreporting, social stigma around sexual assault, or fear of retribution from the perpetrator. In addition, many nursing home residents also may be unable to recount their experiences because of mental or physical impairments or limitations.

Despite low numbers overall, however, sexual abuse in nursing homes should not be dismissed—and carries serious consequences. Unfortunately, Maryland is no stranger to similar issues with sexual assault and elderly individuals in nursing homes. And many of these instances go unreported.

For guardians and loved ones, it is important to look for specific signs when visiting. First, female residents and dementia patients run a higher risk of sexual abuse. Residents with similar issues to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, are also at a higher risk because of impaired memory and communication challenges. Second, knowing the signs of potential sexual abuse is crucial. Indicators such as bruises on the thighs or genital area, newly developed anxiety or depression, and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases are all potential signs of sexual abuse taking place.

The holidays are for gathering, family, and taking the time to appreciate all that the previous year has had to offer. This holiday, ensure that your loved ones in nursing homes are safe by staying hypervigilant and checking in with their overall health and safety.

Do You Need a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney?

If you or someone you love recently experienced abuse or neglect at a Maryland nursing home facility, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen today. Our lawyers are experienced, compassionate, and knowledgeable about the law, and will work to get you the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 800-654-1949.

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