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Consent to Nursing Home Sexual Activity Not Always Clear

A New York man recently filed a lawsuit against the nursing home where his 85-year-old mother resides, alleging they had forced “huge, muscular strippers” on his mother, whom he says has been a devout Christian her whole life and now suffers from dementia.
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In the case of Youngblood v. East Neck Nursing Center, Inc., the defendant says he found photographic evidence of the incident after the fact. The image shows his mother stuffing dollar bills into the underwear of a 20-something male dancer. The lawsuit claims that not only did the staff order the strippers’ services without his mother’s consent, they used some of her money to pay for the striptease.

The son alleges that while his mother is sometimes lucid, she lacks both the mental and physical capacity to give informed consent regarding such matters.

Our Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys recognize that consent is at the core issue in such cases. People don’t lose their desire for physical affection and companionship as they age. There are some cases in which an elder loved one may find comfort in romantic relationships formed while they are a patient in a nursing home. But loved ones need to make sure there is informed consent, and that can be extremely difficult to gauge when someone is afflicted with mentally-debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A recent survey published in the journal Clinical Geriatrics indicated that 90 percent of dependent nursing home patients had sexual thoughts, fantasies and dreams. Eight percent indicated that they had engaged in sexual intercourse within the last month and nearly 20 percent said they wished they had.

Nursing homes have a responsibility to monitor such interactions. Romantic relationships between staffers and patients are wholly inappropriate, with a great potential for abuse due to the power imbalance. Relationships between patients can be a bit trickier, but there may still be the potential for abuse, and administrators and staffers need policies and procedures in place to address potential problems and concerns.

In the Youngblood case, it appears the nursing home was attempting to provide residents with an experience they might find enjoyable. However, at best, it was a misguided attempt. At worse, it amounted to a form of abuse.

According to the court records, the son became alarmed when a photograph surfaced showing a young male placing his hands, torso and genital area upon his elderly mother, who is a two-time stroke victim who must use a wheelchair and suffers from dementia. It was later revealed that the dollar bills she was stuffing into the dancer’s underwear were from her own commissary account.

The son asserts that the nursing home had a duty of care to protect residents’ physical, mental, emotional and economical health and welfare, as well as to preserve their dignity. Such “entertainment,” the son says, instead exposed patients to humiliation through offensive physical contact that was not for the enjoyment of the residents, but rather for the “perverse pleasure” of staffers.

He claims that staffers instructed the male dancer in question to perform various sexually-related acts upon his mother and other patients, despite the fact that many of them did not have the physical or mental capacity to consent to such acts.

The nursing home defendants have yet to respond to the allegations. Any concerns by family members that their elderly loved one has been sexually mistreated, abused, threatened, coerced or disrespected should be discussed with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Youngblood v. East Neck Nursing Center, Inc., March 13, 2014, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Suffolk

More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Legislation Would Narrow Defendant List, April 1, 2014, Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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