According to the latest data, nearly 3.5 million people live in nursing homes all over the USA. Also, around 40 percent of all people will be living in a nursing home at some point in their life, and it will increase. However, a negative side of being placed in a nursing home as an older person is the abuse residents face in the nursing home.

It is estimated that five cases go unreported for every reported case of elder abuse. With the above information in mind, let’s understand the most common abuse complaints in nursing homes and the legal options for the victims and their families.

What is nursing home abuse?

Nursing home abuse is the harmful actions done by caretakers of long-term residents in care facilities. Intentional or unintentional harm can be seen as abuse, which can result in the following:

  • Medical emergencies
  • Trauma or
  • Death

The reasons for abuse in nursing homes can be several of the reasons mentioned below:

  1. Understaffing
  2. Burnout and
  3. Improper training

The above issues can cause many problems among the staff, due to which the long-term residents of the nursing home end up suffering abuse. Therefore, it is important to report the abuse to the police, lawyer, or adult protective services before taking action.

However, as many older adults suffer from mental and physical health issues, it might be difficult letting you know about the abuse they are suffering. So, let’s now look at some types of nursing home abuse commonly observed among older adults.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

There are several different types of abuse and neglect that an elderly resident might face when placed in a nursing home. So here are a few examples of the most common types of abuse in nursing homes:

  • Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse, although not visible, can be quite harmful to the elderly resident in the nursing home. It can increase their stress levels and make them feel miserable, scared, and anxious. Some types of emotional abuse are as follows:

  • yelling at the resident
  • isolating them from family and friends
  • manipulating their decisions

Apart from the above, emotional abuse can also be done by denying a patient their dignity. For example,  leaving them in soiled clothes or not allowing them to make daily decision-making choices.

  • Financial exploitation

The nursing home residents might also be abused financially when the caretaker steals money from their accounts. Usually, older adults with dementia or cognitive decline fall victim to financial exploitation.

  • Neglect of a resident’s basic needs

Another type of abuse in nursing homes is neglecting a resident’s basic needs. Some of the most common types of abuse and neglect concerning the neglect of a resident’s basic needs are as follows:

  • Soiled bedding
  • Poor hygiene
  • Dehydration or malnourishment
  • Medication errors

These can also be valid grounds for action against the nursing home staff where your elderly loved one is residing.

  • Physical abuse

When talking of physical abuse among older residents of a nursing facility, it could be difficult to determine, but the following signs are quite helpful in understanding the sign of physical abuse:

  •  Unexplained bruising
  • Bedsores
  • Broken bones, or
  • Head injuries

It can also be observed by physical restraints, over-medication, force-feeding or excessive use of chemicals.

  • Sexual assault

Any elder adult living in a nursing home can also become a victim of sexual assault through any form of unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault can lead to physical harm like scratches, bruises, sexually transmitted diseases, and emotional trauma.

The following symptoms can understand some other signs of abuse in nursing homes:

  • Giving medications improperly
  • Displaying poor attitude and disrespecting residents
  • Bad planning when it comes to moving residents to different floors or rooms
  • Not resolving conflicts among residents
  • Providing improper medication to patients
  • Ignoring resident’s requests for assistance

Additionally, keeping notes of each elder abuse that your loved one has suffered will make it easier for you to report nursing home abuse later. The different types of abuse in nursing homes have been explained in detail. Let’s understand how to report abuse in nursing homes.

Legal Options for Nursing Home Abuse

When you place your elderly loved ones in a nursing home, it is expected that they will be taken care of properly. However, due to understaffing, improper training, or burnout, the staff might cause harm to the resident, which is known as abuse in nursing homes. If you believe that your elderly loved one has been a victim of the different types of abuse and neglect, there are certain legal options you can pursue. Here are a few ways you can get legal aid:

  1. If the elderly resident of the nursing home abuse is in immediate danger, it is important to inform the authorities at the earliest.
  2. Report any abuse in nursing home cases to an elder ombudsperson or Adult Protective Services.
  3. Get in touch with a law firm or attorney specializing in abuse in nursing home cases and file a case.

All the above steps will be helpful in not only getting justice but also ensuring that your elderly loved one is safe and taken care of properly.


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