A former nursing assistant for HCR ManorCare is being accused of punching a 98-year-old woman who suffers from advanced dementia.

According to an emergency order from the Florida Department of Health, the nursing assistant worked at a ManorCare facility in Naples, and was tasked with caring for the vulnerable resident. On Feb. 3, 2020, another employee of the facility claimed to see the nursing assistant close her fists and twice strike the 98-year-old in the back of the head.

The patient responded by holding her hands up in a defensive manner, according to the order.

The employee who witnessed the abusive incident reported it to ManorCare, which fired the nursing assistant in question following an investigation. The state’s surgeon general suspended her nursing license in late May, and an administrative complaint has been filed, according to the state’s online disciplinary database.

Abuse in memory care units

Elderly loved ones living in a specialized support setting due to cognitive impairment are, sadly, often at risk of being abused. While the secure nature of these facilities or wings can protect a resident, it can also increase isolation. When there is little contact with others, it is easier for signs of trouble to go unnoticed.

Compounding this, many memory care residents struggle to communicate. Even if they recognize what happened was wrong, they may not be able to express it.

You should be able to trust that a nursing home is a safe space for a vulnerable or aging loved one. Too often, that trust is broken and those in charge need to be held accountable.