Many abusers simply look for vulnerable individuals whom they think they can take advantage of. This is why you see cases of domestic violence, for example, that target young people or those who are financially dependent on their abusers. It makes them vulnerable.
That’s also part of the reason for nursing home abuse. The elderly have a relationship with their caregivers that makes them directly vulnerable. They need that care to stay healthy. They may not have any way to physically stand up for themselves. Abusers see this as an opportunity for financial abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and mental abuse, and much more.
Putting an end to it
Naturally, the families of those who have suffered abuse want to know what authorities are doing to protect their loved ones and put an end to this abuse. In many cases, they feel like not nearly enough is happening. Why can’t we do more?
One potential problem is that the elderly can’t always understand or communicate what happened to them. Degenerative brain diseases can cause them to forget what occurred. Issues like strokes can make it hard or impossible to communicate.
These same issues can make testimonies questionable, even when they are possible. If someone says they suffered physical abuse at the hands of a caregiver, but their mental state means they often can’t remember their own children, will that testimony hold up in court?
Some reports also indicate that the nursing homes do not properly report incidents when they do happen. A delay can mean that abuse continues unchecked, that evidence gets lost or even that an elderly person passes away before they can tell their side of the story.
In some instances, this delayed reporting happens because the staff does not believe the elderly person. They do not want to start an investigation and harm their own reputation over what may be an inaccurate story. In other cases, they want to cover things up and hide what happened. They intentionally do nothing, even when the testimony seems reliable.
After all, caregiving is a business. Nursing homes constantly lose their residents to old age, disease, injury and other factors. They need to bring in new residents to turn a profit. Like any other business, reputation is important, and some nursing homes put it ahead of ethics and even following the law.
What can you do?
Do you think that caregivers have abused your loved one in any way? You do have legal rights and options in South Carolina. Make sure you know what they are at this difficult time.