It’s something that is difficult to talk about and sometimes not always easy to identify.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes can take several forms. It can be the aide who takes inappropriate pictures of a patient while bathing. It could also be another patient.
In cases where both victim and aggressor suffer from conditions like dementia, there could be a tendency by staff to brush off the known sexual encounters as two people seeking affection. But we have to be very careful not to make assumptions in these cases because one of the first questions should be: Can a person with limited mental function give consent? Often, the answer is no.
A troubling case out of Washington state shows what can happen when nursing home staff are too quick to dismiss these interactions as consensual. According to news reports, numerous instances of sexual contact between a male dementia patient and several female patients was deemed consensual by the director of nursing, who chose not to report the interactions to either the state or the families. Continue reading →