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Types Of Nursing Home Abuse

types of nursing home abuse

There are many types of nursing home abuse including physical, emotional, sexual and financial.  The vulnerability of older adults makes them an easy target for predators and those seeking to exploit them.

Unfortunately, elderly persons do not always have the ability to speak out about their mistreatment.  In some cases, they may fear the consequences of reporting their abuser.  If you have an elderly family member who lives in a nursing home or requires the assistance of a caregiver, learning to recognize the signs of common types of nursing home abuse can better help you protect them.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the intentional infliction of injury or pain.  Examples include punching, kicking, slapping, shaking and shoving the victim.  Unnecessary restraint of an elderly person, physically or medically, is also a type of physical abuse.

Symptoms of physical abuse include:

Caregivers may explain away injuries or attribute these signs of abuse to the victim’s clumsiness.  However, if the victim suffers repeated injuries that they cannot explain or do not want to discuss, family members should consider the possibility of abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when someone causes mental or psychological pain and anguish through verbal or non-verbal actions.  Examples of verbal abuse include:

  • Threatening
  • Harassing
  • Bullying
  • Coercion
  • Isolating or ignoring the victim

Although the symptoms of emotional abuse may not be obvious, watch for unexplained anxiety, depression, fearfulness, agitation or withdrawal.  Emotional abuse can lead to other types of nursing home or elder abuse.

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is the fraudulent misuse of the victim’s cash, possessions, and assets.  Examples include:

  • Forging checks
  • Using credit or debit cards without permission
  • Identify theft
  • Opening new accounts
  • Tricking or coercing the victim into signing over assets
  • Tricking or coercing the resident to give power of attorney or revise their will

Other types of financial abuse include scams and fraudulent billing schemes.  For example, a nursing home may over bill the victim or bill them for services they did not provide.


Neglect is the failure to provide necessary and reasonable care.  There are many ways that a nursing home resident may experience neglect. These include:

  • Basic needs neglect includes failing to provide food, water, comfort, or personal care
  • Medical neglect is the failure to provide necessary medical treatment
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Neglect of basic hygiene

The signs of neglect may be less obvious than signs of physical abuse, but neglect can be as dangerous or even life-threatening. 

Wound Care

Improper or insufficient wound care is a common form of neglect in the nursing home environment.  Wounds from surgical procedures, pressure ulcers and other injuries require ongoing care to prevent secondary infections and other complications.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any type of non-consensual sexual contact, as well as forcing the victim to disrobe or view sexually explicit content.  The abuser may expose themselves to the victim.  Signs of sexual elder abuse include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Unexplained pelvic pain, bruising, or bleeding
  • Trouble walking or sitting down
  • Emotional signs resemble those of psychological abuse, such as anxiety, withdrawal, and fearfulness

Consequences of Nursing Home Abuse


Bedsores are a common sign of elder abuse, especially in nursing homes and residential care centers. These preventable injuries develop when caregivers neglect a bedridden or wheelchair-bound patient or fail to take the actions necessary to prevent sore development.  The most common locations for bedsores are the back, buttocks, and hips, although they can occur anywhere on the body.

There are several stages of bedsores.  Left untreated, bedsores develop into painful and life-threatening infections.  These infections may persist for months or years, requiring extensive medical treatment.  In some cases, victims may die from complications related to bedsores.

Dehydration and Malnutrition

When nursing homes and caregivers neglect the basic needs of elder adults, such as failing to provide adequate food and water, victims can develop dehydration or malnutrition.  Left undetected, victims can die from these conditions.


In some cases, a victim may die from their injuries.  If this occurs, the victim’s family may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim.

Have Questions about Nursing Home Abuse?

If you have questions about nursing home abuse or neglect, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help.  At Nursing Home Abuse Center, we will gladly speak with you and answer your questions.  If you need legal help, we can help.  If you would like a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers, please call 1-866-548-9636.