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Horrific cases shine light on nursing home abuse

For too many elderly or incapacitated people in Mississippi, abuse or neglect inside a nursing home is a fact of life. Family members may be concerned about how they can protect people who may not be able to advocate for themselves, especially if they are dealing with dementia, developmental disabilities or other conditions that make them less able to speak about their experiences. Several disturbing incidents have highlighted the potential for abuse in the nursing home context, including a young developmentally disabled woman who was raped and beaten and a woman in a vegetative state who was discovered to be pregnant.

Both were being cared for in nursing homes when the abuse was discovered, and the perpetrators are still apparently unknown. As a result, family members have been seeking more information about the experiences of their own loved ones in care homes or nursing facilities. While these cases may be particularly extreme, physical violence, sexual abuse or verbal and financial mistreatment can occur and go unnoticed. Between 2013 and 2016, over 1,000 nursing homes were cited by federal authorities for failing to prevent sexual assault, abuse or rape inside their facilities. Around 100 were cited multiple times during that three-year period for the same offenses.

Some of the most vulnerable patients may be unable to speak clearly, or their illnesses may lead to them being disbelieved if they do try to share their experiences. Nursing homes with high levels of staff turnover or shortages may be particularly vulnerable locations as there could be little oversight over potential abusers.

Nursing home abuse can devastate patients as well as their families. Whether the mistreatment was financial, sexual or physical, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting. An attorney may work with family members to pursue compensation and accountability in cases of nursing home neglect and abuse.

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