Warning Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

elder care abuseAlthough many people are familiar with cases of nursing home abuse or neglect, nursing home sexual abuse is often ignored or overlooked. However, as unthinkable as it may seem, there are hundreds of adult care sexual abuse cases a year - with a number of instances of nursing home sexual abuse reported in North Carolina annually.

Elder care sexual abuse can consist of unwanted touching, forced nudity, sexual harassment, sodomy, rape, pornographic photography, or other unwanted sexual advances and contact. Those involved in nursing home sexual abuse often get away with their misconduct, as long-term care residents are often too frightened, too ashamed, or simply physically unable to report the incidents due to dementia or Alzheimer's disease. In some cases, seniors have different generational beliefs that prevent them from discussing sexual acts or misconduct. What are the signs of nursing home sexual abuse?

  • Bruising in the inner thigh, around the breasts, or on the upper abdomen.
  • Bleeding in the patient's undergarments or from the patient's genitals or anus.
  • The discovery of a sexually transmitted disease.
  • The patient is uncomfortable sitting or walking.
  • Signs or complaints of irritation or itching in the genital area.
  • An attendant will not allow you alone in a room with your loved one.
  • There is a delay before you are let into your loved one's room.
  • The patient has displayed changes in their behavior, mood, or demeanor.
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain.


Nursing home sexual abuse can involve either a nursing home employee or a fellow resident. Either way, it is important to understand the devastating consequences of elder care sexual abuse - the resident can suffer from both physical harm - bruising, broken bones, fractures, tearing, infection, and disease - and from deep emotional pain and trauma. In some cases, the abused senior will loose the will to live in the face of abuse. If you know of a case of nursing home sexual abuse in the state of North Carolina, you need to act immediately.

Making the decision to place a loved one into a long-term living facility or nursing home is a difficult one. You should not have to worry about your parents' or grandparents' living conditions - you should be confident that they are safe and being treated with kindness and respect. Be sure to research the nursing home you choose and to keep a watchful eye on the health and disposition of your loved one. If possible, talk to them about their ongoing experience and let them know that they can confide in you.

For more information on North Carolina nursing homes and their track records, visit the NC Division of Health and Human Services page on adult care home violations and penalties.