When we speak about sexual abuse in Hollywood and Florida, we often focus on protecting vulnerable younger people. However, there is also another vulnerable population who may be targeted by predators: the elderly.
Senior sexual abuse is a devastating problem and it is far more prevalent than many people realize. Elder citizens of nursing homes and care facilities may have cognitive and mobility issues which can make them vulnerable to predators. As well, retirement homes and nursing homes do not always have security or proper screening measures to prevent abusers from getting access to vulnerable residents. In some cases, residents of nursing homes have criminal histories and prey on their peers.
Senior sexual abuse is a devastating problem in Hollywood and Florida because it is an often-overlooked one, which allows the abuse to continue. Seniors may have traditional views about sexuality and may be scared or ashamed to come forward. In some cases, their ability to communicate may be compounded by medical problems or they may not feel comfortable accusing a caregiver or other resident. Residents of nursing homes may also be scared of being ousted from a care environment, unsure of where they could go.
All these factors can allow abuse to continue.
Devastatingly, the impact of sexual abuse on seniors can be catastrophic. The physical injuries sustained in an assault can result in fractures, lacerations, bruising and other serious injuries which can exacerbate existing medical problems and can take a longer time to heal. Seniors who are abused may contract STIs, and these can lead to complications for someone with a weakened immune system.
It can be difficult to know how to prevent sexual abuse or to stop it if it occurs, but there are several things families can do:
- Investigate anyone who is in a caregiving position. The only way to determine whether caregivers are safe is to screen properly. Do not assume nursing homes do so. Check to make sure any care environment is screened to eliminate sexual offenders and abusers.
- Keep communication open. Talk to elderly family members and friends often. Call once a week and make sure your friends and loved ones know they can talk to you about anything. Speaking about sexual abuse is difficult; it can be a little easier if trust and good communication are already established.
- Visit often. Frequent visits may make it more likely you will spot any suspicious symptoms.
- Keep seniors independent where possible. Work with family doctors to give your family the best chance at independence. When someone can make phone calls or get around on their own, they may be less vulnerable than someone with fewer resources and ways to get help.
- Look for signs of sexual abuse. Unexplained injuries, STIs, sudden withdrawn behavior, personality changes, and fear or anxiety can all mean something is amiss. If you notice any changes, always determine what has happened.
If you or someone you love has been affected by sexual abuse, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation. There may be legal remedies available and our team in our Hollywood, Miami, and Homestead offices would be happy to offer more details about your options.