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New problem for nursing home residents: Social media abuse

Nursing home abuse and neglect are very serious issues that affect some of our society's most vulnerable people. A new trend has emerged that is rather disturbing because it places these most vulnerable people in an even more vulnerable spot. This new trend is posting pictures of nursing home residents on social media.

This is a very serious issue because most places don't have laws specifically addressing posting pictures of nursing home residents online. In some cases, the photos might be considered sexual exploitation, which is against the law. In some cases, however, the pictures aren't sexual in nature but the pictures are still humiliating to the residents.

One incident in another state brought the troubling issue to light. A nursing home resident has his picture taken and posted on SnapChat by a caregiver. The man was covered in feces and his pants were around his ankle. The photo was humiliating at the least. In that state, it wasn't illegal because the man's genitals didn't show. The caregiver is still able to work in nursing homes in that state.

That incident isn't a lone one. Instead, ProPublica found nearly three dozen incidents on SnapChat. Another nine were discovered by NPR. Those included a video of a centenarian urinating. Even federal officials are taking notice.

If your loved one is in a nursing home, it is necessary to be aware of social media abuse, which is commonly an issue with residents who have dementia. These online photos and videos of the residents aren't likely to be viewed by the resident, so reports of abuse might not be made. In no event should an elderly nursing home resident be humiliated like this. You should take action if you find out that something like this is going on.

Source: NPR, "Social Media Abuse Of Nursing Home Residents Often Goes Unchecked," Charles Ornstein and Jessica Huseman, July 14, 2016

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