Alzheimer's Abuse

Captured on video: Two nursing assistants at Palm Gardens Nursing Home in Winter Haven, Florida repeatedly hitting and abusing a 76-year-old man who is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The man, unable to communicate and requiring help with the most basic of functions is seen being slapped, kicked and taunted during three separate incidents.

The “Nanny Cam” was installed by the man’s son who noticed unexplained bruising on his father.

Yashika Zenobiaha Jones, 28, and Rose Dorlean Blaise, 35, were arrested. Media coverage in the NY Daily News and the Orlando Sentinel indicate there may be as many as six workers at Palm Gardens Nursing Home who were involved in abuse.

As I read the print coverage, my throat tightened up and I started to tear up. After a few minutes, I dried my eyes and finished reviewing the online accounts, but I couldn’t bring myself to view the footage.

When I first heard about this story, I fully expected it to get national media attention. However, it has barely made a blip. Why?

The media is otherwise occupied. On the morning I’m writing this, one of the biggest stories is Taylor Swift’s latest album. An older man with severe memory loss isn’t news. Even when that same man is abused by those entrusted to care for him, it still doesn’t rank high enough.

This made me angry. So angry, that I was able to watch the video of the abuse at the Palm Gardens Nursing Home. It’s horrible.

I’d love think this type of abuse is isolated, but I know it is not. There is abuse happening right now — perpetrated by care workers in facilities and even by family members in a home setting. Those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can’t tell their own story. We’ve got to stand up for them.

Let’s ask questions, pay attention, take notes, install cameras and generally make a lot of noise surrounding the issue of elder abuse. Let’s put pressure on the media to tell this story. Wouldn’t we want someone to do this on our behalf?

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