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Alarming Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Camera in Florida Facility

nursing home patient with caregiver

Patients suffering from dementia are among the most vulnerable in society, making it especially unnerving when reports surface of abuse and neglect. Following a recent investigation, Palm Garden of Winter Haven is facing serious allegations of criminal battery after officials witnessed repeated the repeated tormenting and physical assault of a 76-year old patient suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s.

In the words of the patient’s son, “[i]t’s a heartbreaking disease and to know someone would treat him in that manner, I can’t understand it….”

Video of nursing home abuse leaves little to speculation

Palm Garden of Winter Haven is situated within the top retirement destination in the United States, making it one of thousands of long-term care facilities within the state of Florida. However, the alleged misconduct, abuse and neglect occurring in the facility is hardly indicative of the benevolent mission of long-term care for the elderly.

Amid growing concern by the victim’s family, a nanny cam was placed just feet from the bed – and the footage was nothing short of alarming. In the video, two nurses are seen taunting the patient during routine care. The patient – clearly unable to cognitively digest the gravity of the situation – is assaulted in the face, legs and body while the nurses change his bedding and undergarments, making him all the more vulnerable to mistreatment. At one point, one of the nurses appears to be yelling at the victim while making repeated pointing gestures at his face. Also during the video, a second nurse appears to be kicking the patient. Throughout the footage, the victim appears agitated, confused and frightened.

Both nurses were taken to Polk County Jail and booked on counts of Battery of an Elderly Person, a third degree felony. The women are being held without bond.

Warning signs of elder abuse

The family of the victim began noticing warning signs of abuse, including unexplained bruising and abrasions on the patient’s body. The victim’s son reiterated that due to his father’s illness, he is unable to communicate about what is happening to him – so the family decided to take action. After approximately 30 days of bruises, scratches and the onset of significant depression, the camera was placed in the room. From there, the family began to warn others with loved ones in the Palm Garden of Winter Haven facility to keep a close eye on their family member. As the victim’s son stated in a recent interview, “[i]f they do it to him, they’d do it to anyone else.”

Nursing home abuse on the rise

The aging and elderly population in the United States is forecasted to continue growing over the next several decades. In fact, the 2010 census revealed the highest number of Americans age 65 and older in the history of the U.S. census. With this growing demographic comes the increasing need for long-term care and, sadly, the congruent increasing rates of elder abuse and neglect.

According to a recent study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, up to 10 percent of elderly patients have experienced some form of abuse or neglect in the past year. However, the study also revealed that an “overwhelming” number of cases go unreported each year, with an estimated 1 in 14 cases ever reaching law enforcement. Moreover, the highest reported type of elder abuse is financial exploitation, which occurs when a family member or caretaker takes advantage of an elderly person’s vulnerability for purposes of financial gain or asset transfer.