Alzheimer’s Patients Are Disproportionately Vulnerable to Elder Abuse

Written by NHAbuseGuide on December 2, 2015

In New Hampshire, the Attorney General took the time to announce the indictment by a grand jury of Timothy Morrissey, a former nursing assistant at the Bel Air Nursing Home located in Goffstown. Undoubtedly, the shocking nature of the crime necessarily required some public statement from a state official, who better than Attorney General Foster, who actively sought multiple multi-year charges against Mr. Morrissey in relation to alleged incidents of sexual assault involving a seventy-nine (79) year old patient suffering from dementia Halloween of 2014. Based on the charges, Morrissey now faces a possible ten (10) years in prison, and since the details of this nursing home sexual assault incident became public knowledge shortly thereafter, his assistance nurses license was revoked.

 Co-Worker Accountability and Watch Programs Bring an End to Ongoing Nursing Home Sex Abuse

 According to statements made by officials to the press and local court documents, the October 31st elder sex abuse crime at Bel Air Nursing Home in New Hampshire only stopped due to the interruption of the crime by a fellow employee, who witnessed Morrissey sexually engaged with the resident, who also suffers from Alzheimer’s complications. Upon being discovered and in an internal interview at Bel Air Nursing Home, Morrissey confessed to the incident, while explaining his actions as due to a self-suspected paraphilia. Unfortunately, in nursing home sex abuse cases, ultimately it is a co-worker that discovers another employee engaging in criminal sexual conduct with a resident. Each incident investigates the possibility, however, rarely do other patients emerge to identify themselves as victims, and in many cases, the victims themselves cannot communicate or comprehend the nature of the events ongoing.

 Elder Abuse Is Prevalent in All Forms and Requires Decisive Action to Protect Loved Ones

 Elder abuse, per federal and most state legal definitions, minimally includes any non-consensual sexual contact between an elderly individual and a staff member, or any other member of society for this matter, as issues of consent arise in most cases of cognitively handicapped person and consenting to sexual activity. Additionally, further legislative protections include under the rubric of elder abuse any financial, physical, emotional, psychological, or other forms of ill-treatment that seek to exploit the vulnerability and relatively skewed positions of trust in an elderly person and caregivers lives.

Unfortunately, adult protective agencies from across all states collectively report 250,000 or more elder abuse incidents annually, with experts predicting that these complaints amount for less than five (5%) to ten (10%) of the actual instances of abuse across the country annually. In cases of suspected abuse, especially something as significant as sexual abuse, waiting for state agencies or nursing homes themselves to respond to a reasonably prioritized protection of an elderly patient, is simply unacceptable. In these instances, having legal counsel to determine specific legal options, immediately enforceable rights of residents and legal guardians quickly, and in a manner that also considers the harms potentially sustained by the resident requiring immediate counseling or other psychological help, is crucial.

 A Statistically More Accurate Picture of Elder Abuse

Though cases involving sex abuse or wrongful deaths in nursing homes are almost certainly egregious, and as such, naturally garner a large amount of public attention, the reality is that the most likely perpetrator of crimes against elderly person is tragically their own family members in as high as ninety (90%) of abuse cases, with family-related elder abuse frequently centering around financial exploitation, neglect, and physical abuse. And yet, over thirty-three (33%) percent of operating nursing homes in the US today have featured at least one incident of elder abuse on their properties previously, leaving understandable and valid concerns about the future of the collective welfare of an increasingly larger population of elderly Americans annually. However, while sex abuse cases involving the elderly occur by the thousands each year, elder sex abuse is fairly statistically uncommon relative to physical violence or verbal abuse, which nursing home employees themselves admitted to doing in 17% and 51 % respectively of the nursing home employees surveyed.

 

References:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=422

http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/Living-with-dementia/Day-to-day-living/Safety/Elder-abuse

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/your-money/in-alzheimers-cases-financial-ruin-and-abuse-are-always-lurking.html?_r=0

https://aspe.hhs.gov/national-alzheimers-project-act

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/alzheimers/Documents/professional_GuidelineFullReport.pdf

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