Nursing Home / Assisted Living Facility Abuse (2023)

Aging is a natural and unavoidable part of our lives. Receiving poor care, however, is not.

As people age, their needs and ability to care for themselves change too. The transition from an independent, home environment to a care facility can be a very stressful one. We want our aging loved ones to receive the same care and assistance that they provided to us over the years. When shopping around for nursing homes or retirement communities, it’s easy to be taken in by flashy brochures that feature sparkling amenities and exciting activities. The most important part of any transition, however, is making sure that the care your loved ones are receiving is top of the line.

There are few things in life more upsetting than the topic of nursing home or elder care abuse. The thought of our loved ones being taken advantage of in a vulnerable state is enough to worry anyone. Negligence can come in many forms too. Our aging population can be abused verbally, physically, sexually, financially, and more. There are so many potential areas of exploitation that it can be overwhelming to try and keep up. Sadly, in our country, nursing home abuse is a serious problem.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, according to the National Council on Aging.

It’s a problem that is continuing to grow, and some serious changes are needed to prevent the numbers from continuing to expand.

What is Nursing Home/Elder Care Abuse?

We know that it’s a problem, but how exactly do we recognize it when it’s happening?

The Elder Justice Roadmap, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, defines elder abuse as: “physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonments, and financial exploitation of an older person by another person or entity, that occurs in any setting (e.g. home, community, or facility), either in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability.”

When we think of abuse, we often think primarily of its physical or sexual characteristics. For vulnerable, aging Americans, this is only one small aspect of a much larger problem. While physical or sexual abuse is a tragic occurrence, it’s not the only form of abuse that we should be aware of when considering the care of our loved ones.

(Video) Video shows alleged abuse of Alzheimer's resident at assisted-living facility

Types of Elder Care Abuse

As we discussed above, there are many ways that caretakers abuse the elderly in their care. It’s important that we are mindful of all the ways that others take advantage of the vulnerable, so that we can prevent it from happening to those we care about.

Nursing Home Abuse comes in a variety of forms, such as:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Willful or Passive Neglect
  • Financial Exploitation
  • Isolation or Confinement

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive. These are just some of the most common ways that we see elder abuse play out.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse generally refers to the infliction of pain or injury upon an elder by their caretaker. It can be one of the easiest forms of abuse for the loved ones of the victim to recognize. It’s also the most commonly reported.

(Video) Hidden camera reveals abuse by care home staff of dementia patient Ann King

Victims of physical abuse often display: welts, bruises, unexplained injuries, persistent pain, and more. If you notice any of these signs when visiting your loved ones at a care facility, they may be victims of physical abuse at the hands of a nursing home staff member.

Elders exposed to physical abuse, even of a minor nature, have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been victims of abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse refers to touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an elderly patient when they are unable to understand, unwilling to consent, or physically forced.

Elders experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of a caretaker also have an increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Emotional Abuse

When we talk about the emotional abuse of our elderly population, we’re referring to verbal assaults, threats, harassment, or intimidation. Emotional abuse can have long-term effects on the mental health of the elderly in nursing home or elder care facilities.

Consistent exposure to emotional abuse at the hands of a caretaker can lead to a rapid decline in the mental health of elderly patients. The words spoken by caretakers can do irreparable damage to patients in their care.

Willful or Passive Neglect

Sometimes the abuse of our loved ones is done through malicious and intentional actions, and sometimes neglect comes through a passive lack of care.

Passive neglect refers to a failure to provide basic standards of care. Any patient in the care of a nursing home facility should have access to their basic needs. If your loved ones aren’t being provided with food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance, and other basic necessities, there is a serious problem. Passive neglect can be a result of apathetic caretakers, but it can also be a result of an understaffed or underfunded care facility. In either case, it’s unacceptable.

(Video) Abandoned Detroit Nursing Home With Terrible Patient Abuse

Willful neglect or deprivation is when an elderly individual is actively denied access to the same basic necessities listed above. An older patient should never be denied access to the care they have a legal right to receive.

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is the misuse of an elderly patient’s resources. It’s a sad fact of life that some people will target the vulnerable for their own financial gain. Research shows that patients in an elder care facility are far more likely to suffer financial losses.

The financial abuse of the elderly also has an adverse effect on our economy. Financial abuse costs older Americans $2.6 billion annually, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. The financially abused also have a greater reliance on federal health care programs like Medicaid, and the costs are passed on to taxpayers.

Isolation or Confinement

If you’re loved one is being physically restrained or isolated from the general population for non-medical reasons, they’re experiencing another form of care facility abuse.

Isolation and confinement can also have disastrous effects on the physical and mental health of elder care patients.

Identifying Nursing Home or Elder Care Abuse

As elderly abuse takes on so many forms, it can be easily missed. While some forms of abuse leave physical signs, others can be harder to diagnose. Is the mental decline of your loved one a natural response to aging, or is it spurred on by abuse at the hands of a caretaker?

The first thing to note is that elder care abuse is massively under-reported.

According to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, for every case known to programs and agencies, 24 were unknown.

(Video) Investigation into alleged abuse at Texas City nursing home

That means that only 1 in 25 cases are even reported, and that’s not to mention how many cases are actually being dealt with and resolved. It turns out, we aren’t even aware of how big the problem is in our country.

Identifying potential abuse in a nursing home or elder care facility requires a keen observation. We recommend a “surprise” visit to the care facility that your loved one resides at now and then. This allows you to see how the elder care patient is actually being treated on a daily basis, when prying eyes aren’t around.

Identifying Physical Abuse

Physical abuse signs are often the easiest to recognize. If you notice any bruises, burns, abrasions, or injuries that weren’t there at your last visit, you may have a problem. The symptoms of neglect are often physical and can be easy to spot as well. If you noticed your loved one has bedsores, untreated medical issues, or poor basic hygiene, they may be a victim of neglect.

Identifying Emotional Abuse

For emotional abuse, the symptoms can be harder to notice. Have you noticed an unexpected decline in the patient’s mental health? Are they retreating from social interaction? Are they inexplicably argumentative or combative to their caregiver? These are signs you should be on high alert for. While they may be a natural symptom of aging, they can also be a warning sign for serious abuse.

Identifying Financial Abuse

You know your loved ones, and you probably have a good idea of their financial security. If a loved one in the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility is suddenly displaying signs of financial need, that may be a red flag for financial exploitation.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Loved One is Suffering From Abuse

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must meet stringent state requirements. They are expected to provide the best care possible and to meet all of the necessities of care that their patients require. There are even regulations on the staff they hire and the experience levels required.

If you suspect that the rights of your loved one are being violated, you deserve the best in legal counsel. Nursing home abuse cases can be very complex and difficult to navigate. The experience and guidance of a trusted attorney will go a long way toward getting the justice your loved one deserves.

Dealing with suspected abuse is a tragic and difficult situation for anyone to find themselves in. Don’t hesitate to contact one of the qualified, skilled attorneys at the Brooks Law Group. Our attorneys and staff have the experience you need to receive the justice and compensation that you deserve.

(Video) Would cameras in nursing homes stop abuse, neglect?

If you suspect that a loved one is experiencing any form of abuse at the hands of a caretaker, our nursing home abuse lawyers at Brooks Law Group are here to help. You can call our offices, located in Tampa, Winter Haven, and Lakeland, at 1-800-LAW-3030, or visit us online to request your free, no-obligation case evaluation. Choose the firm that has served your community for over 25 years with excellent legal assistance. Don’t wait; reach out to an attorney today!


What is the most common abuse in nursing homes? ›

Emotional Abuse

It is the most common type of nursing home abuse. According to the WHO, over 32% of nursing home staff members said they emotionally abused residents. Examples of emotional abuse include: Controlling a resident's activities against their will.

What are three 3 signs that may indicate that elder abuse is taking place at a healthcare facility? ›

General Evidence of Abuse
  • Having unexplained broken bones, dislocations or sprains.
  • Bruising, scars or welts seen on the body.
  • Failing to take medications properly.
  • Signs of restraint, such as rope marks on the elder's wrist.
  • Broken eyeglasses.
  • The refusal of the caregiver to let you be alone with the elderly person.
Mar 3, 2021

What is the most common reason for inappropriate behavior in residential nursing care? ›

Not being trained on the specific policies of the nursing home. Lack of understanding of the rights of residents. Lack of ongoing, on-the-job training and development. Inadequate training for specific disabilities, illnesses and needs.

When elder abuse is suspected Which of the following actions should be taken first? ›

If you suspect abuse, you may need to start by taking your suspicions to a nursing home director or reporting them to the police. To help protect your loved one, however, you should start by compiling documentation of the abuse.

What are the 8 forms of abuse? ›

What are the ten different types of abuse?
  • Physical abuse.
  • Domestic violence or abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse.
  • Financial or material abuse.
  • Modern slavery.
  • Discriminatory abuse.
  • Organisational or institutional abuse.

What are the 7 types of elder abuse? ›

What are the 7 types of elder abuse? The 7 most common types of elderly abuse include physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, self-neglect, and abandonment. Any of these elder abuse types can be devastating to older people and their families.

What 3 types of abuse should always be reported? ›

Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are some of the most known types of abuse: Physical abuse is when someone hurts another person's body. It includes hitting, shaking, burning, pinching, biting, choking, throwing, beating, and other actions that cause physical injury, leave marks, or cause pain.

Which are the 3 main warning signs that someone may be an abuser? ›

Warning Signs of an Abusive Person
  • Jealousy and Possessiveness. Wants to be with you constantly. ...
  • Controlling Behavior. ...
  • Quick Involvement. ...
  • Unrealistic Expectations. ...
  • Isolation. ...
  • Blames Others for Problems. ...
  • Blames Others for Feelings. ...
  • Hypersensitivity.

What are red flags in elder abuse? ›

Some of the Red Flag warning signs of physical abuse may include inadequately explained fractures, bruises, cuts or burns. Red Flag warning signs of psychological abuse may include the isolation of an elder or actions by a caregiver that are verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling behavior or neglect.

What are 3 behaviors that can jeopardize patient safety? ›

Such behaviors include reluctance or refusal to answer questions, return phone calls or pages; condescending language or voice intonation; and impatience with questions. 2 Overt and passive behaviors undermine team effectiveness and can compromise the safety of patients.

How do you deal with rude residents in a nursing home? ›

5 Tips for Dealing with Aggressive Residents
  1. Stay calm. One of the worst things you can do when confronted with a Barker and Biter is immediately react and engage with them on their level. ...
  2. Listen Carefully. ...
  3. Hold Your Ground. ...
  4. Wait Out Their Outbursts. ...
  5. Be Upfront.
Sep 22, 2011

What is unprofessional behavior in nursing? ›

Spreading gossip, bullying, ostracizing or otherwise making other nurses on staff feel intimidated, inadequate or unwelcome. Losing your patience with a patient in an unhealthy or abusive way, such as yelling, calling names, belittling or causing physical harm.

What are the four steps that a person can take to take action against abuse? ›

This cycle involves four stages :
  • building tension.
  • an incident of abuse.
  • reconciliation.
  • calm.
Nov 29, 2020

What actions should be taken if abuse is suspected? ›

If you think a child might be being abused but they haven't said anything to you, there are things you can do which can help.
  1. Talk to the child. Most children who're being abused find it very difficult to talk about. ...
  2. Keep a diary. ...
  3. Talk to their teacher or health visitor. ...
  4. Speak to other people. ...
  5. Talk to us.

What is the first step taken when a nursing assistant is suspected of abuse? ›

If a nurse suspects abuse or neglect, they should first report it to a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. Notifying a supervisor may also be required, depending on the workplace. If the victim is with a suspected abuser, the exam should take place without that person in the room.

What qualifies as abuse? ›

Examples include intimidation, coercion, ridiculing, harassment, treating an adult like a child, isolating an adult from family, friends, or regular activity, use of silence to control behavior, and yelling or swearing which results in mental distress.

What is the most recognized form of abuse? ›

By far the most visible form of abuse is physical abuse. This kind of abuse is condemned by almost everyone and it is estimated that one in four women are victims of this kind of abuse. The most common forms of abuse include hitting, throwing and scalding, even suffocation is on the list.

What is the most reported type of abuse? ›

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.

What is the most serious type of elder abuse? ›

Elder Neglect

Elder and nursing home neglect can be just as deadly as any other type of abuse. Signs of elder neglect include: Development of bedsores. Lack of medical care for health problems (such as untreated infections)

What is considered emotional abuse of the elderly? ›

This may also include restraining an older adult against his/her will, such as locking them in a room or tying them to furniture. Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the older adult.

What is passive neglect? ›

Passive neglect is the non-willful failure to fulfill care-taking responsibilities because of inadequate caregiver knowledge, infirmity, or disputing the value of prescribed services. Self-Neglect. This is the adult's inability, due to physical and/or mental impairments, to perform tasks essential to caring for oneself ...

What is the type of abuse that occurs most frequently? ›

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.

Which patient is at the highest risk for elder abuse? ›

Those at the greatest risk for elder abuse are home-bound elders, women, individuals older than 80, and those who live in isolated conditions.

Which of the following types of abuse is most common? ›

Neglect. Neglect occurs in 61% of child abuse cases. 12 It is the most common form of child maltreatment in the United States.

What is one of the most common reasons for abuse by caregivers? ›

Caregiver stress is a major risk factor for abuse and neglect ( American Psychological Association, 2009 ).

What is the hardest form of abuse to detect? ›

Emotional abuse often coexists with other forms of abuse, and it is the most difficult to identify. Many of its potential consequences, such as learning and speech problems and delays in physical development, can also occur in children who are not being emotionally abused.

Which abuse is most damaging? ›

Studies show emotional abuse may be the most damaging form of maltreatment causing adverse developmental consequences equivalent to, or more severe than, those of other forms of abuse (Hart et al.

Who is the most common abuser of the elderly? ›

In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.

What can be done to end elder abuse? ›

Report abuse or suspected abuse to local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman, or the police. Use the National Center on Elder Abuse Listing of State Elder Abuse Hotlines to find your state's reporting numbers, government agencies, state laws, and other resources.

What is the nurses role in elder abuse? ›

Nurses are considered mandated reporters which means as licensed healthcare professionals, nurses are required to report any suspicion of abuse, including that of vulnerable adults. Failure to report elderly abuse can result in criminal charges and loss of professional license.

What is the number one cause of abuse? ›

-- See NCJ-159823) The leading cause of child abuse in the United States is poverty; an increasing number of parents find themselves unable to cope with the stresses of poverty and their children often bear the brunt of parental frustration through physical abuse and neglect.

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
May 23, 2017

What is an act of omission? ›

It can include ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services. It can also involve withholding the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

What are the two most common types of senior abuse? ›

The most common type of elder abuse is neglect. Some examples of neglect are not giving them their medicine, protecting them from danger, not providing food or water, and not taking care of their hygiene if they are unable to do so themselves.

What common signs would indicate abuse has taken place? ›

Signs of physical abuse
  • bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks.
  • broken bones.
  • open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing.
  • broken eyeglasses/frames, or any physical signs of being punished or restrained.
  • laboratory findings of either an overdose or under dose medications.

What is the most common complaint of caregivers? ›

Common Complaints
  1. Confusion in communication due to multiple caregivers caring for one client. ...
  2. Caregivers who are not punctual. ...
  3. Inconsistent quality of care. ...
  4. Caregivers spending too much time on their phones. ...
  5. Lack of caregiver training. ...
  6. Cultural differences/language barriers. ...
  7. No discounted rate for 12+ hour shifts.
Sep 10, 2020


1. Recognising & Responding to Elder Abuse in Residential Care Setting 1
(Comfort Keepers Homecare Ireland)
2. Nursing home staff throw and racially abuse elderly patient
(Daily Mail)
3. Exclusive: Long Island nursing home aide accused of patient abuse
(Eyewitness News ABC7NY)
4. Family alleges elder abuse of loved one at Foster Health and Rehab Center
(WGN News)
5. Video shows alleged elder abuse by caretaker in Sun City
(12 News)
6. Elderly Alzheimer's patient beaten at Arvada assisted living community; caregiver facing arrest
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