Snapchat exposing elder abuse

It's one of the most difficult decisions a family can make - whether to put an aging loved one in a nursing home.

FOX23 learned a growing number of nurses and nursing home staff are breaking family’s trust in a shocking way.

FOX23’s Justin Gray found nursing home residents being mocked, ridiculed and exploited on social media apps by the people being paid to care for them.

Short, sometimes funny and sometimes strange, Snapchat pics and videos are now shared by millions of Americans every day.

But some of those shares are no laughing matter.

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

For Mench, putting her husband's grandmother, Janet Hartfrant, in a nursing home was a last resort. Hartfrant is suffering from dementia after multiple strokes.

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

But in the nursing home they carefully chose, a nurse Mench trusted violated that trust by taking embarrassing videos of Hartfrant on the toilet and sharing them with friends on Snapchat.

“I kept asking her, ‘Why? Why did you do this? Why would you do this? How would you feel if someone did this to you?’” she said.

It's not an isolated incident.

FOX23 learned two Massachusetts nurse's aides were charged after they posted pictures of Jay Boskey's mother captioned "Chuckie’s bride.”

Of course, it's very disturbing.

Senator Chuck Grassley calls it abuse. He said it's happened dozens of times at nursing home facilities across the country.

Grassley sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, demanding a nationwide investigation.

“You're there because you can’t entirely take care of yourself. Then, to have some people abuse these elderly people is a shame and we got to put a stop to it,” said Grassley.

Grassley is also reaching out to Medicare and Medicaid to see if more can be done in nursing home inspections.

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

FOX23 checked with Snapchat. A company spokesman told us the incidents violate both their community guidelines and terms of services.

And the app has a tool for Snapchatters to report violations.

Mench said she didn't even know what Snapchat was until she found out how it was used to humiliate her grandmother.

“It just makes me sick. I don’t understand. I don’t understand,” she said.

FOX23 reached out to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that regulates nursing homes, to see what they're doing about this.

They shared a notice of proposed rulemaking on the Federal Register that singles out social media and mobile device abuse in the new rules to govern nursing homes.

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