Social media used in new form of elderly abuse

A form of elder abuse is becoming more popular with the rise of social media apps like Snapchat.

Putting a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision, and most people look for a trustworthy facility, but Channel 9 found out a growing number of nurses and staff are breaking that trust by using social media to post inappropriate or embarrassing pictures of the elderly when they’re most vulnerable.

Certified Nursing Assistant Benjamin Gerardino lost his license in March after accusations that he took naked pictures of two residents of the assisted living facility Seaside Manor in Ormond Beach, and posted the pictured on Instagram.

“It makes me sick. I mean, really, what if this was your mom? What if this was your grandma?” said Mindy Mench.

Mench said the decision to put her husband’s grandmother in a nursing home was a last resort.

“She came to stay with us, and I cared for her as long as I could,” said Mench.

But it was in the nursing home that a worker took embarrassing videos of their grandmother on the toilet and shared the videos on Snapchat.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said it’s abuse and has sent a letter to the Justice Department, demanding a nationwide investigation.

“It’s just taking advantage of people in a way that is inhumane,” said Mench.

A Snapchat spokesperson said the incidents violate the company’s community guidelines and terms of services, and that the app has a tool for users to report violations.

Gerardino was fired after the pictures surfaced and the families decided not to press charges.

Had the families pursued prosecution, the Ormond Beach Police Department said it would have charged Gerardino with elderly abuse and video voyeurism.