Emotional, Physical, and Other Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Emotional, Physical, and Other Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that nearly two million people aged 65 and older live in nursing homes in the U.S. The growing number of individuals residing in nursing homes raises the concern that they are not receiving the appropriate level of care. There are different types of nursing home abuse, and family members should be aware of the common types of abuse and various warning signs that may indicate that their loved one is experiencing abuse.


Physical Abuse


Physical abuse is not always blatant, but it is one of the most easily detected forms of nursing home abuse. Intentional physical harm is the most common form of nursing home abuse and includes actions like:


~ Excessive restraints using straps or chains




~Withholding prescription medication

~Unexplained death


Warning signs of physical abuse may include a staff member always being present when the family is visiting. Broken bones, unexplained injuries, scars, and bruises are also common signs of physical abuse. An elderly patient experiencing physical abuse may also have cuts or bruises around their wrists or legs.


Suppose the staff reports the patient is refusing to take medication or reports medication overdoses. In that case, the family should be aware that this may indicate physical abuse is taking place through withholding prescription medication or over-medicating the patient. If the family suspects physical abuse, report the concern to the police and contact an experienced nursing home abuse.


Emotional Abuse


Emotional abuse is easier to hide, and it can be harder to decipher when a loved one is experiencing intentional emotional abuse. Emotional abuse deliberately causes the patient deep anguish, anxiety, fear, or another unhealthy mental state.


Intentional abusive verbal communication creates unreasonable or unnecessary emotional pain. Passive behavior, such as ignoring the patient’s verbal requests or physical needs, is also a form of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse causes mental distress, and it is just as serious as physical abuse and often leads to physical ailments.


A loved one experiencing emotional abuse in the nursing home may experience the following warning signs:


~The staff or caregiver does not allow the patient to be alone with family.

~The caretaker or staff member displays questionable behavior in the presence of loved ones like avoidance of needed assistance, threats, or verbal manipulation.

~The elderly patient becomes very quiet and withdrawn.

~The patient seems depressed or very anxious.


Financial Abuse


Financial abuse is another common type of abuse found in nursing homes. Financial exploitation can directly impact the patient’s health when it comes in the form of healthcare fraud. The patient’s health insurance is charged for unnecessary services or they are charged for services that are not performed. As a result, the patient does not receive necessary medical treatment.


Signs of financial abuse or exploitation may include:


~Unexpected changes in the patient’s will or a transfer of power of attorney

~New beneficiaries added to a life insurance policy

~Disappearing personal property or money

~Unexpected charges or withdrawals from credit cards or bank accounts

~Unpaid bills or phone calls from debt collectors


Sexual Abuse


Because the abused individual feels deep shame and embarrassment, nursing home sexual abuse is often underreported. It is important to remember that sexual abuse can take the form of verbal communication or unnecessary disrobing in addition to physical contact.


Some signs of sexual abuse may include:


~Injuries around the genitals or breasts

~Sexually transmitted diseases

~Torn or stained clothing or bedding

~Unexplained vaginal or rectal bleeding

~Emotional distress




Nursing home residents who suffer from neglect experience improper care, which results in physical harm, illness, or death. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, over 15% of elder abuse complaints involve neglect. One of the most common reasons for neglect is improper training or overstaffing.


Signs of nursing home neglect may include:


~Medication errors

~Improper medical care for conditions like diabetes or dementia




~Unsanitary conditions

~Personal uncleanliness

~Failure to report an infection or illness to a doctor




Nursing home abuse can result in physical, financial, social, and emotional consequences. In severe cases, nursing home abuse results in death. The contract between a nursing home and the patient is legally binding, and failing to provide proper care can result in criminal or civil penalties. The nursing home and individual staff members may be held responsible if their actions can legally be considered nursing home abuse. Seek the advice of experts to find out more.

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