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Elder Abuse on Social Media: How Can I Protect My Loved One?

Caregiver verbally abusing elder woman

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that one in 10 Americans aged 60 or older have experienced some type of elder abuse. Nursing home and assisted-living residents may become the victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers. And another form of abuse that has become a growing problem is elder abuse on social media. Below, our San Jose elder abuse lawyers explain social media elder abuse and tips to prevent it.

What Is Social Media Elder Abuse?

Social media elder abuse is the exploitation of an individual from a nursing home or assisted-living facility on social media. Social media exploitation is not a defined type of abuse or neglect covered under California’s elder abuse laws. However, this online exploitation may be considered a form of psychological abuse. Additionally, residents of these facilities have an expectation of privacy from their caregivers. Exploiting this privacy may be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Elder abuse on social media generally includes sharing any images and/or videos unauthorized by the individual or the individual’s family. A few examples of these posts may include:

  • Images that depict nudity
  • Depictions of physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Videos of verbal or physical abuse

Tips for Preventing Your Loved One From Suffering Elder Abuse on Social Media

A few ways that you may be able to protect your elderly loved ones from suffering elder abuse on social media include:

  • Research the facility’s history. Check to see if there have been reports of abuse or neglect related to the facility in the past. Have any reports of social media elder abuse been filed? If possible, you may even want to ask if all the employees have had criminal background checks performed to ensure that no one with a record of abuse is working there.
  • Review the facility’s policies and procedures. You should also ask about the facility’s policies and procedures regarding patient care, elder abuse training, privacy and monitoring systems.
  • Visit the facility before you allow your family member to move in there. Speak with the staff and other residents. Research the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect before your visit and keep your eye out for any indications that residents are suffering abuse during your visit.
  • Once your loved one is placed in a home, visit him or her often. The constant presence of family and friends may deter an abuser from targeting your loved one. Even during COVID-19, there are steps you can take to communicate with your loved one.

Contact a Compassionate Elder Abuse Attorney About Your Situation

If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect, consider speaking with an elder abuse attorney as soon as possible. You may have a viable claim to help ensure the individual or facility responsible is stopped and brought to justice.

At Needham Kepner & Fish LLP, our elder abuse lawyers have extensive experience helping abused residents and their families hold negligent parties accountable for elder abuse and neglect. Call us today at (408) 956-6949 or fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch with you soon.