Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is defined as the intentional or unintentional harm of a nursing home resident by a staff member. It can come in many different forms and looks many different ways. In order to prevent, quickly spot, and respond to nursing home abuse, it is important for all nursing home patients and their loved ones to be aware of the different types of nursing home abuse. Below, we offer an overview of the categories of nursing home abuse, as well as warning signs to look out for in each.

1. Physical Abuse

Physical abuse refers to a nursing home staff member causing bodily harm or injury to a resident. In a 2020 survey, nearly one in ten nursing home staff members admitted to physically abusing patients. 

Examples of physical nursing home abuse include: 

  • Restraint
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Burning 
  • Ignoring medical conditions
  • Tripping
  • Ignoring calls for help

Warning signs of physical abuse include:

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Scratches
  • Broken bones
  • Bedsores and pressure ulcers
  • Black eyes
  • Unexplained falls
  • Burns and scalds

Physical nursing home abuse is very serious as it can lead to grave complications and even death. 

2. Emotional Abuse

The most common type of nursing home abuse, emotional abuse is a category encompassing verbal and psychological abuse. It involves a nursing home staff member threatening, insulting, humiliating, or degrading a resident. Over 32% of nursing home staff members have admitted to emotionally abusing residents. 

Examples of emotional nursing home abuse include:

  • Threatening
  • Social isolation
  • Insults
  • Controlling a resident’s activities against their will

Warning signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Negative changes in mood
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
  • PTSD
  • Fearfulness
  • Agitation
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Extreme dislike of a particular caregiver

3. Neglect

Nursing home neglect refers to a failure to provide the proper care a resident needs, leading to their suffering. Although it is not intentional, neglect is still a type of nursing home abuse.

Examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Failing to feed a nursing home resident enough nutritious food, leading to malnutrition
  • Failing to provide a nursing home resident with the necessary activity and exercise
  • Medication mistakes
  • Not properly maintaining a resident’s hygiene 
  • Failing to report injuries and illnesses
  • Ignoring complaints
  • Leaving residents unattended

Warning signs of nursing home neglect include:

  • Substantial losses in weight
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Dirty bedding and clothing
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Undiagnosed and untreated illnesses
  • Bedsores
  • Secondary infections and diseases
  • Missed medication and doses
  • Poor hygiene

Nursing home neglect can lead to very serious emotional and physical consequences including illness, disease, and death.

4. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any type of undesired sexual contact, advances, or conduct. When a person has sexual contact with a nursing home patient who is unable to give consent because of their mental state, it is also considered sexual abuse. 

Examples of sexual abuse include:

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Touching
  • Groping
  • Sexual assault
  • Coerced nudity
  • Sexually explicit photographing 

Warning signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Bruises
  • Scratches
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Difficulty sitting and walking
  • Bruising and skin irritation around the groin
  • Urinary tract infections 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Bloody, stained, or ripped underclothing
  • Unexplained pelvic pain or bleeding

5. Financial Abuse

A final type of nursing home abuse is financial abuse, which is defined as stealing from or manipulating a nursing home resident in order to get money from them.

Examples of financial abuse include:

  • Stealing financial records or bank statements
  • Stealing cash, credit cards, or any other valuables
  • Preventing a resident from accessing their own bank account
  • Identity theft
  • Manipulating a resident into signing a document
  • Misuse of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney
  • Undue influence with the goal of changing a person’s last will and testament
  • Threatening or scaring a resident into transferring assets
  • Forging a resident’s signature

Warning signs of financial abuse include:

  • Unexplained bank withdrawals
  • Changes to a resident’s will or power of attorney
  • Receipt of letters from collection agencies
  • Missing belongings or property
  • Significant changes in spending habits
  • Forgeries on legal documents and checks
  • Higher than usual credit card balances

Financial abuse is incredibly serious and can be considered a type of fraud or theft in addition to abuse. 

Recourse for Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes and their staff legally owe their residents a duty of care to keep them safe and not harm them. Any failure to meet this duty of care, whether intentional or unintentional, is considered negligence. Victims of any type of nursing home abuse may be eligible for justice in the form of compensation. Damages for nursing home abuse cases may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages 
  • Stolen money

If you or somebody you care about has experienced nursing home abuse, please contact the relevant authorities immediately. If you are interested in pursuing justice, you may also speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney for a free review of your case.

Featured Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers

Neustrom & Associates

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45 years in practice
Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Wrongful Death
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Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio

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34 years in practice
Medical Malpractice, Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect, Personal Injury
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Palermo Law Group

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26 years in practice
Medical Malpractice, Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Wrongful Death
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Theory Law APC

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10 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Employment Law, Personal Injury
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Lake Tapps Legal

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Criminal Defense
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D Michael Mullori Jr Attorney At Law

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23 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Premises Liability
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