Sick, Dying, and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes
American churches continue to fixate upon youth. They are always chasing after kids or college-aged people.
Meanwhile, the elderly face their own set of problems and issues, but do churches care? No.
The elderly can be just as vulnerable as children, in that some of them are frail or they have dementia.
Senior citizens needed to be cared for and advocated for just as much as any infant or child, but I rarely see Christians show as much interest in helping them as I do them looking after abused, poor, or neglected babies and children.
by Blake Ellis
Some of the victims can’t speak. They rely on walkers and wheelchairs to leave their beds. They have been robbed of their memories. They come to nursing homes to be cared for.
Instead, they are sexually assaulted.
The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.
It’s impossible to know just how many victims are out there. But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine.
Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little — or nothing — to stop it.
Sometimes pure — and even willful — negligence is at work. In other instances, nursing home employees and administrators are hamstrung in their efforts to protect victims who can’t remember exactly what happened to them or even identify their perpetrators.
In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations — or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver
ABUSE AFTER ABUSE
Some accounts of alleged sexual abuse come from civil and criminal court documents filed against nursing homes, assisted living facilities and individuals who work there. Other incidents are buried in detailed reports filed by state health investigators.
A 76-pound North Carolina nursing home resident who was so cognitively impaired she required assistance with even the simplest daily tasks reported that a nursing aide, behind closed doors, pushed her head toward him and forced her to give him oral sex.
The third time a resident of a Texas nursing home was raped by a nurse, the assailant ejaculated in the victim’s mouth and on her breasts. When he left, desperate to hold on to whatever evidence she could, she spit the semen from her mouth into her bra and kept the unwashed bra for three weeks. “That’s all I have,” she later told state investigators.
…An 88-year-old California woman who’d only had sex with one man her entire life — her husband of nearly 70 years — said she awoke in her nursing home bed with her catheter removed and her bed wet. The next thing she remembered was seeing an unknown male nursing assistant staring at her naked body. “This is why I love my job,” she remembered him saying, according to what she told police. Weeks later, the woman complained of severe vaginal pain and “oozing blisters,” and she was eventually diagnosed with incurable genital herpes. To this day, the identity of the alleged perpetrator hasn’t been determined.
And finally, in a small town in North Carolina, a nursing assistant continued working for years despite multiple reports of alleged abuse. Only after a defiant nurse reported the abuse to police was he fired and arrested. Luis Gomez, 58, is in jail awaiting trial and maintains his innocence.
Most of the cases examined by CNN involved lone actors. But in some cases, a mob mentality fueled the abuse. And it’s not just women who have been victimized.
For months, a group of male nursing aides at a California facility abused and humiliated five male residents — taking videos and photos to share with other staff members.
One victim, a 56-year-old with cerebral palsy, was paraded around naked.
Another, an elderly man with paralysis who struggled to speak was pinched on his nipples and penis and forced to eat feces out of his adult diapers. He was terrified his abusers would kill him. While the aides lost their certifications, an investigation by Disability Rights California found that many of them never faced charges.
… AN UNTRACKED ISSUE
But most states could not say how frequently abuse investigations involved sexual allegations, often stating that sex abuse allegations are not categorized separately from other forms of abuse.
…But these statistics only tell a small part of the story because they fail to capture the many instances in which nursing homes have been cited for mishandling allegations of sexual abuse in other ways — ranging from botched investigations to cover-ups.
…Complaints and allegations that don’t result in a citation, which the government calls a “deficiency,” aren’t included in these Medicare reports. In addition, national studies have found that a large percentage of rape victims typically never report their assaults. So these numbers likely represent only a fraction of the alleged sexual abuse incidents in nursing homes nationwide.
….AN UNCHECKED ‘EPIDEMIC’
It’s rarely talked about, but sexual assault in the very facilities tasked with caring for the elderly is hardly a new problem, with cases dating back decades.
It’s happening all over the country. In cities, the suburbs and the countryside. In nursing homes housing low-income residents on Medicaid. And in centers where people pay thousands of dollars out of their own savings to be there. They’re owned by huge corporations and regional chains but also by nonprofits and mom-and-pop small business owners.
And the issue is only becoming more pressing as the elderly population booms, with the number of Americans over age 65 projected to more than double between 2010 and 2050.
Yet the facilities that currently house more than 1 million senior citizens typically pay low wages to nursing assistants (about $11 or $12 an hour), making it difficult to attract and keep quality workers. And during the most vulnerable hours, the night shift, there are often few supervisors.
The abuse is “an epidemic,” said Mark Kosieradzki, a Minnesota attorney who has represented a number of victims and their families, including Fischer, the woman who recounted her mother’s rape in court. “Predators find elderly patients to be easy prey. Those patients often have dementia. They can’t say what happened, or are not believed because many people find it inconceivable that a 28-year-old caregiver would want to rape someone’s grandmother.”
…Kosieradzki and other experts who advocate on behalf of the elderly say strong federal and state laws are in place that require abuses to be reported and investigated. The problem, they say, is that these laws are not always followed by the nursing homes.
…Most sinister of all are administrators and employees who actively impede investigations.
“There are some situations where they don’t realize it’s happened, and they don’t want to believe it. They just don’t understand it,” said Ann Burgess, a well-known nurse and Boston College nursing professor who specializes in the assessment and treatment of elderly sexual abuse victims. “There are other cases where they try to cover it up. … They blame the victim.”
A pull quote from the page:
PREDATORS FIND ELDERLY PATIENTS TO BE EASY PREY.
Another pull quote, about an elderly lady who was sexually assaulted in a nursing home:
SHE WAS AS VULNERABLE AS AN INFANT WHEN SHE WAS RAPED.
This is from a side bar on the page:
Six women. Three nursing homes. And the man accused of rape and abuse
Luis Gomez appeared to many to be the perfect nursing aide. He loved his job and went the distance for residents in his care. But now a different image has emerged: Gomez, who insists he is innocent, is accused of being a serial abuser — moving from facility to facility despite a history of allegations against him. CNN documents his trail.
The rest of the article
Christians should be speaking out against such injustices and trying to prevent them. Instead, most of them show more concern over how to convert teens or college kids to Christ, or constantly plot and strategize on how to get more kids to attend their churches.