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Nursing homes and assisted living communities are two types of residences for older adults. 

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is a residence for people who need help with medical care and activities of daily living. They offer 24/7 care and assistance from both administrative staff and medical professionals. Residents of nursing homes may be elderly adults or people with disabilities who cannot or prefer not to receive care in their homes.

Each nursing home differs in its atmosphere. Some may feel more like a hospital, with the focus being on medical care. This type of nursing home will offer a variety of healthcare services, and there will be a nursing station on each floor.

Other types of nursing homes are more similar to a home or neighborhood, with the focus being on companionship and community building. They may allow couples to live together.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are a residence for older adults who require some support with their health or well-being. They offer a number of various services, typically including:

  • Assistance with the activities of daily living (dressing, grooming, going to the bathroom)
  • Assistance with instrumental activities of daily living (medication management, housekeeping, meals, laundry, and transportation)
  • Social activities and programs 

Assisted living communities strive to offer a home-y feel with residential options ranging from apartments to standalone houses. 

The Difference Between a Nursing Home and Assisted Living

Unlike nursing homes, assisted living communities do not offer full-time care by specially trained medical staff. They are also not licensed by Medicare or Medicaid to provide skilled nursing services. For this reason, residents of assisted living communities are typically more independent and require less medical attention than nursing home residents. They may be younger, healthier, or using fewer medications. They typically take care of most of their needs on their own and are given more responsibility and more freedom within the facility. 

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is defined as any intentional or unintentional harm to a resident by nursing home staff. It is a severe issue that can lead to trauma, medical issues, and death. There are multiple types of nursing home abuse including:

  • Physical nursing home abuse - This includes acts such as pushing, hitting, kicking, and excessively aggressive physical conduct
  • Emotional nursing home abuse - This includes yelling, taunting, isolation, humiliation, and shaming 
  • Nursing home neglect - This is the neglect of nursing home residents’ needs leading to issues such as bedsores, infections, malnutrition, psychological effects, and more
  • Sexual nursing home abuse - Any form of non-consensual sexual activity between a nursing home staff member and a resident is considered to be sexual abuse, including any form of sexual activity with a resident who is unable to consent because of their mental state
  • Financial nursing home abuse - This includes stealing objects or money from nursing home residents or defrauding them in any other way

What Is Assisted Living Abuse?

Assisted living abuse refers to any type of abuse that occurs in an assisted living facility. Like nursing home abuse, assisted living abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, financial, emotional, and neglect. Assisted living abuse can be perpetrated by staff, other residents, or visitors to the facility. 

Comparing and Contrasting Nursing Home Abuse with Assisted Living Abuse

While residents of both nursing homes and assisted living facilities are at risk of abuse, nursing home residents are typically more vulnerable because they may be older, in poorer health, and more dependent on their caretakers. For this reason, abuse is less common in assisted living facilities than it is in nursing homes. The most common type of abuse in an assisted living facility is emotional abuse, which at least 20% of residents regularly suffer. This includes insults and humiliation by staff and other residents. 

Taking Action 

While residents of assisted living facilities are less likely to become victims of abuse than residents of nursing homes, it is no less critical for them and their loved ones to educate themselves about the potential for harm and neglect. The best protection against both nursing home abuse and assisted living abuse is knowledge and vigilance. It’s essential to know the warning signs of abuse and regularly keep an eye out for them. 

Some warning signs of abuse include:

  • Unexplainable STDs
  • Unchanged, filthy clothes or bed sheets
  • Bruises, burns, or welts on the skin
  • New changes to the power of attorney
  • Bruises or welts around the genitals
  • Fatigue, insomnia, or other sleep disorders
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Cuts, lacerations, or skin tears
  • Dental injuries
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Trauma or PTSD symptoms
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Opening new credit cards or bank accounts
  • Head injuries
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Substance abuse
  • Inappropriate physical contact with staff members
  • Illness or infection
  • The onset of aggressive or violent behavior
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Lowered confidence and self-worth
  • Strange financial transactions or charges
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition or dehydration

If you suspect or know of a case of nursing home or assisted living abuse, there are several organizations and individuals who you can contact to make a report. Additionally, you have the option of pursuing justice in the form of a civil lawsuit. This will help you and your family be compensated for the pain and suffering caused by the abuse. Contact a nursing home abuse attorney to receive a free case review and learn more about your options.

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