Information Processing of Sexual Abuse in Elders

Ann W. Burgess; Paul T. Clements


J Foren Nurs. 2006;2(3):113-120. 

In This Article

Case Study 1

A nursing aide walked into the room of Ms. B, a nursing home patient, to witness a male housekeeper crouched at her bedside with his penis exposed near her mouth. When the aide asked the housekeeper what he was doing, the male got up, turned his back and began adjusting his clothing. The aide could tell the male still had an erection.

Ms. B was a 96-year-old woman with the following diagnoses: Alzheimer's dementia, hypertension, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and repair of right hip fracture. The assessment of Ms. B's immediate emotional and cognitive status indicated no particular response. She was staring blankly and did not respond to her name. However, when touched on the shoulder, Ms. B turned further over to the right and pulled the covers higher under her chin. Although Ms. B usually exhibited marked mumbling and unclear speech, no verbalizations were uttered.

One week later a psychiatric evaluation reported that since the sexual assault, Ms. B had become quite anxious and depressed and was not eating. She had been crying frequently and had become increasingly confused. She became socially withdrawn, irritable, and was unable to concentrate.. Nursing progress notes indicated she had "inappropriate behavior of 'licking' as possible response to trauma." Earlier that month, Ms. B had complained of a "man in the room" and had requested that the door to her room be closed.


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