A 71-year-old Ohio nursing home resident has been charged with rape after a staff member reported that he had attacked another resident.
The staff member heard a female resident screaming on Nov. 17 at the assisted living facility in Middletown, and thought she had fallen, but when she entered the room, Gary Earls was reportedly on top of the woman, according to the Journal-News. Both Earls and the victim were naked.
Police arrive and arrested Earls. The victim was taken to a nearby medical center to be examined and for a rape kit to be completed. Police said the 95-year-old victim may not be able to "recollect" what had happened during the attack, reports WLWT.
Earls was taken into custody and held on $100,000 bail. His case was bound over to a grand jury on Dec. 1 after he waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
A study on elder abuse in New York estimated that 1 in 13 elderly people had been the victims of verbal, financial or physical elder abuse in the preceding year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. Abuse of elders often goes unreported, with the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study finding that there were 24 unreported cases of abuse for every reported case.
The NCEA also reports that abuse of residents in long-term care facilities by other residents is more common than abuse of residents by staff, but the issue requires more research.
Another study suggested that at least 1 in 5 nursing home residents had been verbally or physically abused by another resident, reports Reuters.
Researcher studied 2,011 residents in nursing homes, finding that 407 of them had been involved in a case of abuse. Verbal abuse was the most common and accounted for around 45 percent of the incidents.
The most common physical abuse suffered by residents were incidents involving being hit or pushed by another resident.
"Much (but not all) of inter-personal aggression in nursing homes stems from the fact that people, many of whom have dementia and other neurodegenerative illnesses, are being thrust into communal living environments for the first time in decades, if ever," said the study's lead author, Dr. Mark Lachs, who is the director of geriatrics at New York Presbyterian Health Care System.
"While memory loss and other cognitive problems are cardinal features of dementia, the behavior problems that accompany dementia are notorious triggers for nursing home placement," explained Lachs. "When many such people are asked to share common spaces or become roommates, these situations can occur."
University of Toronto public health researcher Dr. Janice Du Mont said that families should seek out a nursing home "with rooms or units set aside for dementia patients or residents prone to aggressive behaviors."
"During a tour, see if there is adequate open space or if the facility feels overcrowded," added Du Mont. "Assess how many residents are in each room, if there are separated recreational areas, and how many staff you see on duty."