The Nursing Home Abuse Center educates and informs senior citizens, family members, and concerned friends about the realities of nursing home abuse. Please browse our free site for the latest news and resources designed to protect the elderly from harm.
Nursing home abuse is a crime. Senior citizens do not lose their basic rights when they move into a nursing home. Many states have special protections for nursing home residents to protect them from abuse or neglect. This abuse can be physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial.
Learn How to Protect Your Loved One from Abuse
In 2016, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 1,328,693 people live in skilled nursing facilities nationwide. In that same year, 21 percent of nursing homes were reported for physically harming or jeopardizing residents.
And unfortunately, nursing home abuse is often an underreported crime. A New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found for every reported case, there were approximately 24 unreported incidents.
Visit Often for News, Helpful Hints, and Elder Abuse Resources
A Kaiser Foundation survey revealed that 59 percent of people do not know who to ask for advice or information about nursing homes. The Nursing Home Abuse Center is a free resource that helps you to:
- Recognize the signs of abuse or neglect
- Identify potential risk factors
- Report suspected abuse or neglect
- Know the facts about nursing home abuse
- Find resources to help victims
- Connect with nursing home abuse lawyers for legal guidance
Recognize the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
There are warning signs of abuse and neglect. You can find more detailed information on specific types of abuse in our FAQ and Types of Abuse sections. Briefly, some common signs of physical abuse are:
- Recurrent complaints of inadequate or abusive care
- Unexplained bruises, fractures, or bleeding
- Sudden weight loss, dehydration, and other signs of malnutrition
- Bedsores or skin ulcers
- Indications of overmedicating or insufficient medicating
- Stained clothing or bedding
- Body odor and unkempt appearance
- Loss of personal items such as jewelry, credit cards, or cash
The most common signs of emotional abuse are:
- Depression or anxiety not caused by medication
- Withdrawal from normal activities and interests
- Fearful or cowering behavior
- Reluctance to speak in front of caregiver
- Violent acts against others or self
Identify the Risk Factors for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse and neglect occur in both luxurious and modest nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs). Nursing home residents are elderly, frail, and naturally more vulnerable to unscrupulous caregivers. However, some senior citizens are more at risk for injuries and abuse. Those in higher risk categories include:
- Seniors with disabilities
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients
- Residents who have little or no family or social support
- Patients with limited income or resources
- Residents who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
Know the Facts About Nursing Home Abuse
Victims often do not speak out against their abusers because they fear retaliation or increased violence. Some nursing home residents cannot physically or cognitively communicate their distress. It is important for family members and concerned friends to know the facts about nursing home abuse such as:
- The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) found that abused seniors have a 300 percent higher risk of death (given their current health status) compared to those who suffered no abuse.
- The NCEA estimates that financial abuse of senior citizens amounts to over $2.6 billion each year.
Locate Resources to Help Nursing Home Abuse Victims
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, it is vital that you report it at once. The NCEA lets you report abuse on its website. Check your state and local agencies for specific information in your area. Each state typically has a telephone abuse hotline.
You might find the following websites helpful. Please note that the Nursing Home Abuse Center is not responsible for the content of these sources and offers them for informational purposes only:
- Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Center on Elder Abuse
- Administration on Aging
- The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
How to Help a Loved One After Abuse
Abuse and violence are particularly harmful to older men and women. Physical, emotional, and sexual injuries can worsen health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Victims sometimes blame themselves for the abuse or feel helpless for not being able to fight back. This is a common but misguided belief. Recovery from abuse takes time and compassion.
You may have to move your loved one to a different facility. Elderly people may not react positively to the move. They may resent the disruption to their daily schedule and need time to adjust to a new facility. Here are some ideas to promote healing and recovery for nursing home abuse victims:
- Connect with a professionally trained abuse counselor.
- Listen without judging or giving advice.
- Treat your loved one to a special activity or meal.
- Choose a new facility that is close to their doctors, house of worship, and other familiar surroundings.
- Visit or call your loved one often during their adjustment in a different place.
Getting Legal Help for a Nursing Home Abuse Victim
Depending on your situation, you or the victim may be eligible to recover damages for expenses and losses related to the abuse. Not all law firms handle nursing home abuse cases. States have different requirements and statutes of limitations. To connect with a nursing home abuse lawyer near you, please visit the Legal Resources page or call 800-516-4783 for a free consultation.