Advancements in video technology have greatly aided the protection of vulnerable, elderly adults in nursing homes and other care facilities. When family members suspect that their loved one is being abused or neglected, they may secretly place a recording device in the resident's room. Videos of elder abuse captured by these cameras are often very disturbing.
Unfortunately, technology is also playing a role in perpetrating elder abuse. According to research conducted by ProPublica, there have been at least 35 reported incidents since 2012 in which staff members in nursing homes have taken cellphone videos and pictures of residents and shared them on social media.
Some of these recorded videos and pictures are meant to mock the behavior of patients with dementia and other conditions. Some show nursing home residents in compromising positions or in various states of nudity. And staff members have even recorded videos of themselves harassing residents for the amusement of other employees.
Unfortunately, the creators of these photo and video recordings can be hard to catch because they share through social media apps like Snapchat, which delete videos shortly after the recipient receives them. Thankfully, however, the incidents are sometimes reported by other staff members, individuals in the community and even those who receive the videos and pictures from the perpetrators.
Obviously, surreptitious photos and videos are, at best, a huge violation of patient privacy and dignity. Most seemingly go beyond that, however. In some cases, they constitute elder abuse (rather than simply documenting it).
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or similar care facility, please be vigilant about the quality of care they receive and the perceived professionalism of the staff. And if you suspect that your loved one is being abused, please contact law enforcement as well as an experienced elder abuse victims attorney.