While men and women both experience nursing home abuse, women, especially over age 65, are more likely to experience assault—including sexual assault. According to a review of elder abuse, “Our findings indicated that violence against older women is prevalent and has significant impacts on physical and mental well-being of older women.”
In addition, patients often experience shame, which is why many nursing home abuse incidents are not reported. Sadly, loved ones could be experiencing nursing home abuse, and families may never be aware.
Why are women more vulnerable to abuse?
One of the reasons women experience more abuse than men is because women live longer, and thus constitute a higher percentage of nursing home residents. According to U.S. Census data and projections, women will continue to outlive men through 2060. This Medicare data indicates women made up 67.2 percent of nursing home residents in 2011.
Secondly, women experience more abuse as a result of health- related issues. Elderly women are more likely to suffer incapacitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and osteoporosis.
Women also tend to be of smaller stature than men, and therefore less likely to physically defend themselves from abuse.
The risk of sexual abuse
All patients are at risk of nursing home abuse, including sexual abuse. This CNN article details some of the horrifying circumstances that have occurred to both male and female nursing home residents. However, “[d]espite the litany of abuses detailed in government reports, there is no comprehensive, national data on how many cases of sexual abuse have been reported in facilities housing the elderly.”
Unfortunately, there is no government data to support whether or not women experience more sexual abuse than men, because the government doesn’t categorize abuse by sexual assault or gender. However, it is not difficult to deduce why women are subject to more abuse, given that the overwhelming majority of nursing home residents are women, their small stature and because they tend to suffer from more incapacitating disease.
What can you do?
Sadly, your elderly relatives cannot or will not tell you if they’ve been a victim of abuse. This may be due to shame, fear or incapacity—they may not be physically able to tell you what has happened, or unaware that any assault has occurred. This is exacerbated when the patient is estranged from family members, distrusts law enforcement, or simply doesn’t know who to tell.
If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, call us immediately! In the interim, visit your loved one often, call them frequently, scrutinize their care, look for physical signs of abuse. In some instances, you may have to have an uncomfortable conversation with your loved one, but keep in mind their well-being is paramount.
The attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein can help with your nursing home abuse claim. Call us today for a consultation.