When you hop onto a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse blog, like this one, you're bound to find stories that may at first blush seem to create a confirmation bias. In other words, this blog is maintained by a high profile and widely respected Philadelphia nursing home neglect and abuse law firm. So it obviously contains information and stories that elevate the salience of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Thus, you might be led to believe that this blog is biased and that it "over reports" the extent of the problem.
But both objective statistics and good science reporting should refute this skeptical mindset.
Consider, for instance, a terrifying story from last week's news alone - which highlights the horrific and diverse extent of the problem.
Arlington Texas police are investigating claims that a woman's elderly mother had been abused at the Heritage Oaks Nursing Home on Gibbins Road. 83-year-old Mynez Carter is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. She needs round the clock care. Her family became angry and suspicious, after they saw unexplainable bruises on the matriarch's body.
What was causing those disturbing bruises?
The woman's daughter, Freddie Johnson, suspected abuse at the nursing home.
To test her theory, Ms. Johnson surreptitiously installed a hidden camera in her mom's room to try to catch suspected abusers in the act. She later told news sources that, once she saw the hidden camera footage, "my heart started racing and I was horrified. And I was more mad than anything just to know this was going on with my mother..."
Ms. Johnson said the video clearly demonstrated that staff workers had been abusing her mom.
In one case, one of the workers pinched Carter's leg. In other case - a scarier example - one worker pulled her mom's hair and pushed on her head. Johnson and her siblings met with the administrator of Heritage Oaks, Jerry Warren. They also filed a police report, and Texas police are investigating.
One of the most disturbing - and also captivating - aspects of the story is the hidden camera.
We all want to know "what goes on" when we're not around. That's fundamental human curiosity at work. Many people who are even slightly dubious about a nursing home would likely be intrigued by what a "hidden camera" might have to say.
Hidden cameras are interesting devices, in that they reveal unfortunate truths about the limits of our trust. What does it say about our society that the children of an elderly woman in desperate need of care must spy on their mother, just to make sure that she is not getting abused?
This is a deep question with potentially worrisome answers.