Watching your parent suffer from Alzheimer’s or another old age related dementia disease is excruciatingly painful. The mother or father you once knew slowly slips away into a world that only he/she understands. As an adult child of a dementia sufferer, you can at least take comfort in knowing that you have ensured your parent is receiving the best care possible, is protected, and is comfortable in the long-term care facility you chose for him/her. Or can you? As recent news reports out of Champaign County, Illinois illustrate all too well, elderly abuse is on the rise in the United States and dementia sufferers are frequently victims.
An employee from a local senior home in Champaign County was recently arraigned on charges stemming from allegations that he was behind a senior sex scandal, say local news reports. Those reports indicate that the accused pleaded not guilty to six counts of soliciting to commit sexual assault. Investigators working the case allege that the accused attempted to pay other men to have sex with patients in a memory care facility and videotape it back in June of last year. Fortunately, it appears that no actual sexual assaults took place; however, the accusations are chilling for anyone who has a loved one suffering from dementia who is in a long-term care facility.
Police say the accused was letting people into the Senior Center all summer and was allegedly trying to get those men to have sex with memory care patients and return with taped evidence. According to the judge, the potential victims had “profound” memory problems, making the allegations, if true, that much worse. Moreover, it appears that the accused has worked at a total of five senior care facilities in the area over the last several years. Investigators are looking into whether there were allegations or actual sexual assaults at any of the other facilities while the accused was an employee.
Bond was set at $1 million during the defendant’s initial court appearance on January 20th over objections of defense counsel. If convicted, the accused faces up to 15 years in prison on each of the six counts.
Protecting Your Elderly Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse
Sadly, the accusations of sexual abuse of the elderly mentioned in the recent news reports are far from unusual. As the elderly population in the United States continues to grow at a historical pace, so do allegations of abuse involving elderly victims. The elderly, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s, and other age related dementia diseases, make easy prey for unscrupulous swindlers and sexual predators. If you are a caregiver or loved one of an elderly individual who is suffering from dementia you must exercise a heightened sense of caution and care when choosing a long-term care facility for your loved one. Employing the following tips when choosing a nursing home can help keep your loved one from becoming a victim:
• Research the facility. Spend as much time as is necessary researching a prospective facility. Specifically, check to see how the facility is rated and whether the facility has been the subject of substantiated complaints in the past. The Illinois Department of Public Health can be an excellent source of information regarding complaints and licensing.
• Question administrators and staff. Remember that the facility you choose is, in essence, working for you, meaning you have every right to ask as many questions as you feel is necessary before you commit to the facility. Among others, ask about the staff to patient ratio, the hiring process for employees, the complaint process for patient or staff complaints, and visiting rules.
• Make unannounced visits. Don’t just show up when you are expected; make a visit early in the morning or late at night when you are not expected. You might even try to show up around shift change in the hope of catching employees willing to talk “off the record” so to speak.
• Talk to residents. Your most valuable information can often be gleaned from current residents. If the facility prohibits you from talking to residents that should be a huge red flag warning you to move on to another facility.
Finally, once you have chosen a facility, be sure to drop in unannounced as often as possible. In addition, talk to your Illinois estate planning attorney about petitioning for guardianship over you loved one so that you will have the authority necessary to remove him/her if you suspect abuse.