The Grim Reality of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

The Grim Reality of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Dec 29

An 89-year resident of a nursing home in Hermantown, Minnesota told her daughter on the morning of January 29, 2013, about the sexual abuse committed against her the night before by one of the male workers in their nursing home facility. However, instead of the Department of Health acting on the case swiftly, it took 10 days before it initiated an investigation and put the blame solely on the 30-year old male employee, exempting the nursing home facility from any form of liability due to its policies to prevent abuse.

The accused abuser/rapist admitted having sex with the elderly resident but, according to the nursing home’s clinical services director, the act was consensual and that the accuser even flirted mercilessly with the young male employee. It took about four days before the victim was medically examined for evidence of rape; results showed that she was badly injured.

Never has nursing home abuses been covered by the media than over the last decade. Due to media coverage and the vigilance of government and non-profit organizations, more acts of abuses are now being uncovered and abusers brought to justice. However, it cannot be denied that many of the abuses committed are totally shocking, as many of these are perpetrated by nursing home personnel themselves, even by nurses and certified nursing assistants, to elder residents who are weak, bed ridden, or suffering from dementia or memory loss.

Some forms of abuses in nursing homes are physical, emotional, financial and sexual, which is the most humiliating and insulting, but the least type of abuse reported. Elder abuse, as defined in the website, is the “initiation of physical or sexual contact with an elderly person, when that contact is nonconsensual or unwanted. This abuse also includes making contact with an elderly person who is confused or unable to give consent. Whether or not the contact is significant or minor, if it is sexual in nature and nonconsensual, it is sexual abuse.” (

Besides listing down the signs of sexual abuse, such as: bruising; blood, stains, or rips in undergarments; sudden trouble standing, sitting, or walking; newly discovered sexually transmitted diseases; pain or injury in pelvic areas; and, inappropriate or atypical behavior, an article in the website of the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg says that “unwelcome or non-consensual sexual activity has no place in nursing homes.” Thus, family members who have even the least suspicion that their loved one is experiencing some form of nursing home abuse, sexual or otherwise, an attorney may be able to help them prove it and hold the responsible party accountable.”