How to protect loved ones if you spot signs of elderly abuse

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The disturbing case of an 80-year-old woman being raped at a nursing facility has gone viral since WREG first reported it Friday. Many are now asking how this happens.

The rape is now being investigated by police. But there are some things you can do to protect your elderly loved one.

"We are certainly seeing more of it. What is difficult is that often times folks are really isolated so we don't exactly how much of it is happening," said Sandy Bromley with the Shelby County Crime Victims Center and Rape Crisis Center.

She  says often the elderly are targeted.

"They may live by themselves, they may rely on people for care-taking and for their meals and medicine and so often times we see caregiver abuse," she said.

The latest disturbing news from the Jefferson family of Memphis is heart breaking. As WREG first reported, Tony Jefferson says his mom was assaulted at a Memphis rehab nursing facility.

They noticed the 80-year-old was acting strange and started showing signs of trauma.

"She`s saying 'uh uhn'  and 'stop' in her sleep," says Jefferson.

At Methodist Hospital, they received the disturbing news.

"They came and preformed a rape kit. They said she was sexually assaulted," says Jefferson.

The Crime Victim's Center says while these cases are rare, they do happen.

"Sexual violence is a part of elder abuse. It is not something we see as often, but it certainly is part of what we see here at the rape crisis center," Bromley said.

That's why they say it's important to watch for signs that something may be going on.

"Unexplained injury. You may have bruises that are unexplained. Things like urinary tract infections that are unexplained. You see a difference in their appearance," she said.

She says be on the lookout and check in on loved ones regularly, and know there is help available.

"If you believe a crime has occurred, certainly call law enforcement and get them involved in investigating that crime. If you would like to just talk through what is happening with a victim advocate, call CREA, Coordinated Response to Elderly Abuse. It is actually a partnership of more than 20 agencies working together to help victims," Bromley said.

Those 20 agencies include law enforcement, Social Services and the Family Safety Center, where even the most vulnerable can get the help they need.

You can contact Coordinated Response to Elderly Abuse at 901-222-4400.

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