What is Nursing Home Abuse?

Jun 16, 2015

According to the 2010 Census Bureau, people age 65 and over comprised approximately 13% of the population. By 2050 it is projected that 20% of the population will be age 65+. Additionally, over 1.4 million elderly adults are currently living in nursing homes in the United States.

Nursing home abuse, also known as elder abuse or neglect, is a serious cause for concern in our elderly population. It is difficult to determine the exact number of nursing home abuse instances each year, but with the ever-increasing elderly population and nursing homes that are regularly understaffed, with workers that are under-paid and over-worked, nursing home abuse and neglect continues to be a serious problem.

Elder abuse is defined as intentional actions, or a failure to act by a caregiver or healthcare professional, that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to an elderly individual.

Nursing home abuse may include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, or even neglect.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse can be difficult to observe, especially if you are not aware of the types or signs of abuse. Elder abuse and neglect can range from physical or sexual abuse to emotional abuse, financial abuse, or even neglect.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when physical force causes harm to an elderly victim. This may include pushing, scratching, hitting, shoving, biting, or physically restraining a victim.

Sexual Abuse

 Although it is difficult to imagine, there are instances in which elderly residents in nursing homes experience unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact by either another resident or possibly even a healthcare worker. Elders who are sexually abused may be forced, coerced, or manipulated into sexual conduct.

Emotional Abuse

 Emotional abuse occurs when an elder experiences emotional distress as a result of the actions of a caregiver. For instance, a caregiver may cause humiliation, intimidation, or neglecting an elder resident or patient.

Financial Abuse

 Stealing money or property from an elderly individual through manipulation, coercion, or trickery is considered financial abuse.


Elder neglect, or nursing home abuse, most commonly occurs when a resident does not receive the proper physical, medical, or emotional care. Neglect may pose serious risks to nursing home residents and it may lead to physical or emotional abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one is currently residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is important that you regularly monitor their treatment and care. Here are some signs of nursing home abuse to be on the lookout for:

–       Unexplained bruising, cuts, or bleeding
–       Bedsores or decubitus ulcers
–       Broken or fractured bones
–       Infection
–       Lethargy
–       Inability or lack of willingness to communicate
–       Physical or emotional withdrawal
–       Malnutrition or dehydration
–       Poor hygiene and/or presence of urine and feces

What should you do if you suspect your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse?

The first step is to regularly monitor the care that your loved one is receiving at the facility. Next, if you believe that your loved one is being abuse or neglected, contact the local Department of Aging and Disability Services to file a complaint.

It is important to protect your legal rights. You should contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney immediately to discuss your potential nursing home abuse case. The attorneys at Brown Wharton & Brothers are experienced in handling cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect. Contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-600-4210.