Nursing home staff members are expected to provide their residents with high quality care. But unfortunately, disturbing as it is to consider the possibility, the reality is that innocent nursing home residents often suffer sexual abuse perpetrated by the very caregivers entrusted with their health, wellbeing, and safety. In addition to potentially causing physical injury, sexual abuse burdens its victims with devastating emotional trauma, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
If you’re concerned that your parent or grandparent suffered sexual abuse at his or her Oklahoma nursing home, the number one priority should be reporting the facility and moving your loved one into a safe environment immediately. You should also seek legal assistance from an experienced elder sexual abuse attorney. Your loved one may be entitled to compensation. Legal action cannot undo the events that already occurred, but it can help to hold the guilty party accountable.
The attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook have over 75 years of combined experience fighting for justice on behalf of elderly sexual abuse victims in the Oklahoma City area, and will do everything in our power to bring about a resolution that will enable your family to begin moving forward. Call our law offices at (405) 698-3040 for a free legal consultation. We will keep your loved one’s information absolutely confidential.
Warning Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse
It is incredibly difficult to talk about being sexually abused, and many victims feel too uncomfortable to bring the subject up on their own. Therefore, as a nursing home resident’s family member, it is critically important that you are able to recognize red flags that sexual abuse may be occurring. Depending on the individual, these red flags can be physical, behavioral, or both.
Some common warning signs that a senior is being sexually abused at his or her nursing home include:
- Physical Signs
- A limping gait or unusual stiffness while walking.
- Bruises or chafing marks around the resident’s wrists, which could indicate use of physical restraints.
- Injuries to the hips, lower abdomen, inner thighs, buttocks, and/or genital area, such as bruising, cuts, scratches, or cigarette burns.
- Soiled, stained, or torn undergarments.
- STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) or STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, genital warts, pubic lice, and trichomoniasis (“trich”) are all examples of STDs and STIs.
- Unexplainable blood stains on bed sheets, clothing, or the resident’s mattress.
- Unexplainable pain when sitting or lying down.
- Behavioral Signs
- Depression, which sometimes manifests as fatigue, apathy, or irritability.
- Fearfulness or avoidance, especially in response to a mention of the facility or an individual caregiver.
- Inappropriate sexual behaviors.
- Refusal to talk about issues when pressed, often accompanied by extreme agitation or anxiety.
- Seeming unusually skittish, fidgety, or hypervigilant.
The victims of sexual abuse need to feel that they will be loved and supported, no matter what sort of mistreatment has occurred. Communicate to your loved one that you will always be there to listen without judgment, and that there’s no need to suffer in silence. The more secure your loved one feels confiding in you, the easier it will be to uncover the truth and take swift measures to intervene.
How to Report a Nursing Home Violation in OK
People in certain occupations, including doctors, social workers, police officers, and municipal employees, have a legal duty to report signs of physical or sexual abuse in nursing home residents. However, even if you are not a member of a profession for which reporting is mandatory, it is very important to report the signs of abuse to the appropriate authorities. The earlier the suspected abuse is reported, the sooner an investigation can begin.
To report a suspected nursing home violation in Oklahoma, you can:
- Fill out the online contact form provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). Navigate to ok (dot) gov (slash) health (slash) Contact (underscore) OSDH (dot) html, scroll down to the section titled “OSDH Comment/Complaint Forms,” and click on the link. This will bring you the complaint form.
- Send an email to ltccomplaints (at) health (dot) ok (dot) gov. The “ltc” in the address stands for “long term care,” which includes nursing homes, assisted living centers, adult day care, facilities that are specialized for the care of Alzheimer’s patients, and residential care homes.
- Call the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). The phone number for the Adult Protective Services/Adult Abuse Reporting hotline is (800) 522-3511.
You should also contact any social workers or physicians who might provide services for your loved one.
Listed below are a few additional resources you may find helpful:
- Medicare Nursing Home Compare – See medicare (dot) gov (slash) nursinghomecompare
- OKDHS Senior Information Line – (800) 211-2116
- OKDHS Long Term Care Ombudsman – (405) 521-6734
Think You Need A Nursing Home Abuse Attorney? Hasbrook & Hasbrook Can Help
If you suspect your parent or grandparent was the victim of sexual abuse at his or her nursing home, you should contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who will treat your loved one with care, compassion, and respect while fighting aggressively to protect their legal rights. Call the law offices of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 right away to set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation.