From the Elder Abuse Reform Now Project (the EARN Project) and the Silver Standard News!
By Mary West
The news accounts below show the horrific indignities and cruelties the elderly and infirmed are subjected to in nursing homes. Case 2 through Case 6 are merely a few of the 65 incidents reported by ProPublica that have come to the attention of authorities since 2012. While the stories vary, the thread they have in common is a shocking lack of respect for human life. The 65 cases only represent incidents where the perpetrators got caught—it is sobering to imagine how many more abuses must go undetected.
Minnesota’s Star Tribune reports on Jean Krause, a 78 year-old resident of an assisted living facility called Heritage House who was sexually assaulted by her caregiver, 59 year-old David DeLong. On the evening of May 8, 2016, Krause was found in a fetal position in bed, unclothed below her waist. DeLong stood a few feet away, breathing heavily with his underwear and jeans at his knees. When a female staff member noticed DeLong, he began pulling up his clothes. Later, the bloodstained clothing and mattress pad of Krause was discovered in the facility’s washing machine. DNA evidence proved DeLong’s guilt. No one told the family about the sexual assault at the time.
In 2013, a nursing assistant at Newaygo Medical Care Facility in Freemont, Michigan was accused of taking an inappropriate photograph of an Alzheimer’s disease resident. This picture, which involved the resident sitting on the toilet with their private parts exposed, included a drawing of a penis having the caption “limp dick.” After the image was shared on Snapchat, the assistant was fired.
A similar incident occurred in 2014 at the Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center in Centralia, Washington. In this case, a nursing assistant recorded a video of a resident sitting on the toilet and shared it with another assistant working on the other side of the building. The resident’s face was visible, her pants were below her knees, and she was singing and laughing while cleaning herself. Upon learning of the abuse, the administrators notified the police and terminated the employee.
Yet more horrors were reported in the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in 2014. A photo was taken of a resident wearing only an underwear brief being carried over the shoulder of a male nursing assistant. Other pictures featured residents inappropriately exposed and/or deceased. One of the nursing aides said that such pictures and videos were frequently sent among the nursing staff.
Another astoundingly heartless case, involved a Snapchat video from the Bentley Senior Living Center in Jefferson, Georgia, which appeared in 2018 in the Athens Banner-Herald. The video, recorded in a hospice room, showed employees smoking a vape pen and yelling curses at an elderly woman who lay dying of a stroke. It was posted online and labeled, “The End.”
In 2015, the Chicago Tribune provided an account of a recorded incident at Rosewood Care Center in St. Charles, Illinois. In it, a nursing home assistant was assistant slapping the face of a 97 year-old dementia resident with a nylon strap. The video, posted on Snapchat, showed the resident crying, “Don’t! Don’t!” as employees laughed. The two employees were fired.
The fear these stories cause us, that a loved one could suffer similar abuses, is all to understandable. The idea of a precious parent being the victim of such atrocious treatment is unbearable.
What can be done about the abuse? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has oversight over nursing homes, has requested state health departments ensure all facilities have policies that prohibit staff from taking demeaning pictures of residents. However, because the nature of nursing assistants’ work involves being alone with residents, enforcing such policies 100 percent of the time seems impossible. State laws, requiring Nursing Homes to report abuse vary greatly and compliance with the laws that do exist Compliance very unreliable. Fortunately, a safer housing alternative is available.
In view of the drawbacks and dangers associated with living in nursing homes, more and more people are considering an alternative – co-housing with friends. This option is quite attractive, as it offers benefits that include improved quality of life, cost efficiency and greater safety. A co-housing community is similar to a college dorm of best friends. It’s a unique environment that consists of bedrooms and a shared space that includes a living room, library, fitness area, garden and more. ...
Living with friends prevents the social isolation so often seen in long-term care facilities. Because the arrangement involves engaging in activities together, such as cooking, watching television and gardening, the emotional and psychosocial advantages are enormous. In addition to the companionship, co-housing also provides an ever-present network for the exchang of information.
Moreover, the inherent support system increases the likelihood that seniors will stay active. Having friends with whom to take regular walks, go on outings or play scrabble helps promote engagement in life and happiness.
Financial benefits of co-housing are substantial. Nursing homes are very expensive, and even a retirement home with plenty of nice amenities may not fall within the budget of many seniors. In contrast, when friends share a home, they each contribute to the cost of rent, utilities and food, thus making it an affordable option.
One of the biggest perks of co-housing revolves around safety. If seniors became ill or suffer an injury while home alone, it might take hours or even days before a family member discovers their plight and gets help. Conversely, within the co-housing community, the members would know to check on someone who doesn’t appear for breakfast or who has a medical condition.
Full Article & Source:
Considering a Change of Address Rather Than a Nursing Home
The Elder Abuse Reform Now Project