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Social media-related elder abuse likely underreported

Placing one of your parents in a Florida nursing home or assisted living facility can be difficult, but you may feel more comfortable doing so if you have complete faith in the care your loved one will receive. Regrettably, however, statistics show that elder abuse and neglect is rampant in many such facilities and that many seniors who live there suffer physical and emotional abuse at some point during their stay.

In recent years, NPR reported that a new form of elder abuse has become increasingly common at many of today’s continuing care facilities, and it involves abusing elders through social media. Nowadays, many nursing home and assisted living facility employees have various social media profiles, and some of them are using them to humiliate and exploit facility residents.

A growing problem

Just how often are nursing home and assisted living facility employees sharing inappropriate or private images or videos of facility residents on social media? According to one recent report, there have been almost three dozen reported recent cases of facility workers sharing inappropriate images and videos of residents on public social media platforms, but that the actual number may be much higher. Additionally, the majority of those cases involved workers posting to sites that utilize “disappearing” software, meaning the images or videos only display for a limited amount of time.

Just what types of images are facility workers sharing? In one recent instance, the image shared depicted a worker taking a “selfie” with a senior going to the bathroom. Another showed an image of a senior in a similar state, who had his hands covered in feces following a bathroom-related incident.

Concerns hard to report

Many safety advocates are concerned that facilities and today’s social media channels are doing little to stop the problem, and that instances of elder abuse on social media often go unreported because many users do not know how to report potential abuse. To help combat the problem and protect residents’ privacy, some residential homes are hiring third parties to monitor social media for signs of elder abuse or neglect.

If you have a loved one living in a Florida facility, do not hesitate to inquire about what steps the facility is taking to protect your loved one’s privacy and prevent social media-related abuse of residents.

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