Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the internet, Zoom calls, and social media have become vital tools for the elderly to stay in touch with their family and friends. Nursing home residents in Kentucky have been getting a crash course in social media as long-term care facilities continue to recognize that the platform can help keep residents active and engaged mentally and socially.

More than one care facility has jumped on the bandwagon as Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok are now household words in many nursing home communities. Viral Tiktok videos of senior dance parties are not uncommon as the site gains popularity with an older demographic.

As positive as these feel-good stories are, there is a line between “all in good fun” and abusive.

Unfortunately, not all nursing home caregivers are using social media platforms for good. With some seniors still learning the social media ropes, they are especially prone to be taken advantage of without their knowledge or consent. There have been strings of cases reported in the media where nursing home residents have been placed in compromising situations, sexually suggestive poses, or embarrassing situations, all for the sake of Facebook likes, Reddit karma, and Tiktok views.

While caregivers may find the content “funny,” this kind of behavior is abhorrent, cruel, and in some situations, illegal and abusive.

To put this type of behavior into context, sexual abuse is not just defined as inappropriate physical contact without consent. Nursing home sexual abuse also includes taking photos or videos of nursing home residents in compromising or sexual positions.

This includes photos of residents bathing, dressing, using the toilet, or otherwise being taken care of. This type of behavior could also be considered mental or emotional abuse. Having embarrassing and sensitive photos or videos distributed online can take a heavy emotional toll on vulnerable, elderly residents.

The problem has become so prevalent that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a memo to all state health departments reminding them that they have a duty to care for elderly individuals, not exploit them. In fact, not only are perpetrators committing abusive acts, but they may also be committing serious HIPPA violations.

Yet, even after this memo was released, more cases of online abuse surfaced. While technology continues to advance rapidly, many institutions are still slow to respond to the new landscape that technology creates. Unfortunately, the cost is sometimes the health and safety of our elderly loved ones.

Abuse of elderly nursing home residents is not entertainment, and it is not for social media clout. This cruel act dehumanizes the very people nursing homes are charged with protecting. If your loved one has been the victim of a social media prank, inappropriate post, or another form of online abuse, contact the attorneys with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP for help.

We handle a wide range of nursing home abuse cases and can help you protect the rights and dignity of your family member while holding negligent or abusive caregivers or nursing home facilities accountable for their actions. Call our Lexington office today at (859) 550-2900 to talk about how we can help you seek compensation and justice.