Big Problem: Explicit Photos of Nursing Home Residents
Social media may be contributing to a rise in cases
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2015 2:09 PM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2015 2:30 PM CST
Stock photo.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – An elderly nursing home resident sits on a toilet with her pants below her knees. A 97-year-old woman is struck lightly in the face with a nylon strap by a nursing home assistant as the woman cries out, "Don't!" Elderly residents of a care facility are coached to quote a rap song about cocaine as one lies in bed with a banner across her chest reading, "Got these hoes trained." An elderly woman is taunted by nursing home staffers as one tugs at her hair. These are some of the stories uncovered by a ProPublica investigation, which found that at least 35 times since 2012, employees at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities shared photos or videos of residents, who are sometimes partially or totally naked, on social media.

Instances like these may be increasing thanks to the popularity of Snapchat—the investigation, which was published in conjunction with the Washington Post, found that 13 of the cases took place in 2012 and 2013, while 22 took place over the past two years. And the 35 number is likely an underreporting, as ProPublica searched only court cases, media accounts, and government inspection reports. One DA suspects other similar incidents have gone unreported because the victims often suffer from dementia and don't realize what took place; in most cases, the photos or videos were discovered only because someone who saw the postings alerted authorities or officials. And, even in the cases ProPublica found, "most" did not end in criminal charges; experts say this is an emerging problem that facilities must learn how to handle. Click for ProPublica's full piece.