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Types of Nursing Home Abuse

The most common types of nursing home abuse are: physical or drug abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse

Types of Nursing Home Abuse & Negligence

For many Americans, a nursing home is the final place they call home. Sadly, they may not be safe in these facilities that are supposed to lovingly care for their needs when they can no longer fully take care of themselves. Residents can face the following forms of abuse in nursing homes: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial abuse. 

Contrary to popular belief, nursing home residents can be abused by people other than their caregivers. Nursing home abuse can also be committed by administrative staff, other nursing home residents, and visitors. In fact, nursing home abuse cases often involve residents with cognitive impairment, such as dementia, as the abuser.  If you or a loved one live in a nursing home, being vigilant and understanding the different types of abuse can help you spot them and take action if they happen.

Nursing Home Abuse statistics

Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

Physical abuse involves inducing pain, injury, or impairment to a resident. Common types of physical abuse in nursing homes include: 

  • Hitting
  • Slapping
  • Pushing
  • Pinching
  • Biting
  • Kicking
  • Burning
  • Force-feeding
  • Physical restraints
  • Physical punishment

If left unchecked, physical abuse may lead to severe and even life threatening injuries. Staff may attempt to cover up physical abuse by claiming injuries are from normal falls or by covering injuries with clothing. Physical abuse can also happen between residents, in which case, staff should take every measure to stop the abuse and should notify family members.

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Just as in the general population, nursing home sexual abuse includes any type of sexual contact wihtout consent. Nonconsenual sexual abuse may include: 

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Oral sexual intercourse
  • Kissing
  • Groping
  • Touching and feeling

Importantly, sexual abuse also includes sexual contact with any resident who is unable to give consent. Sexual abuse is the least reported type of nursing home abuse, but the reporting may not accurately reflect the amount of sexual abuse that occurs. 

nursing home abuse and neglect

Neglect in Nursing Homes

When a nursing home resident is neglected, they are withheld their basic human needs and rights. Neglect can include withholding food, water, medication, shelter, or hygiene. Some ways neglect can manifest include not checking on residents, not changing soiled clothes, not cleaning rooms, not listening to residents’ concerns, and not reporting injuries. 

Unlike many of the other types of abuse, neglect may be unintentional; regardless, it is still abuse. When nursing home residents lack a voice or an advocate, it becomes easy for staff to become careless, lazy, and indifferent toward their residents’ needs.

Abandonment in Nursing Homes

In many ways, abandonment takes neglect a step further, and happens when caregivers completely desert and refrain from caring for a nursing home resident. Although more severe and seemingly unfathomable, this type of abuse does happen. The longer a resident is neglected, the easier it becomes to slip into abandonment.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes

Psychological and emotional abuse in nursing homes may be intentional or unintentional; it involves words or actions that can leave residents feeling scared, belittled, and distressed. There are many ways this type of abuse can manifest, including: 

  • Name calling
  • Threats
  • Harassment
  • Insults
  • Isolation
  • Controlling behavior

This type of abuse may be subtle; residents may not even realize they are experiencing emotional or psychological abuse. Nonetheless, it is extremely damaging and can make it difficult for residents to find joy in their lives.

Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes

Financial abuse can include stealing or using residents’ financial information improperly. It often involves premeditation as the abuser may work to gain trust over time, only to take advantage of a resident’s financial information. Financial abuse might look like: 

  • Denying access to funds or accounts
  • Forging documents
  • Stealing financial documents 
  • Tricking residents into giving away their financial information

When a resident falls victim to financial abuse, it can have devastating consequences and even deplete the very funds that allow the resident to stay at the nursing home.

What To Do About Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse in nursing homes is deplorable and devastatingly common. The signs can be difficult to spot, particularly for residents with cognitive impairment. For example, Alzheimer’s abuse in nursing homes is likely more common than abuse of residents who have increased awareness. If you’re seeing signs of nursing home abuse, consider talking to a nursing home abuse lawyer. You can learn more about how to report nursing home abuse and the best ways to support your loved one or stand up for yourself.

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