Understanding Nursing Home Abuse & Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home abuse happens against seniors when they are under the protection of a licensed care facility. Unfortunately, in all too many nursing homes and extended care facilities, professional support staff act violently or abusively towards their residents. This not only results in physical injuries but emotional and psychological symptoms as well. Sexual abuse rates in nursing homes are also shockingly prevalent. Financial abuse also occurs in nursing homes where staff members take advantage of vulnerable residents suffering from dementia.

Nursing home neglect is another pervasive issue in facilities across America that can have deadly consequences. Nursing home neglect often involves care staff willfully ignoring their residents and failing to fulfill their job duties. This includes not meeting the unique care needs of individual patients and administering the wrong medications. Sadly, there are many cases of nursing home neglect that end up in wrongful deaths.

Resident-on-resident abuse is another concerning issue on the rise. It’s the duty of nursing care staff to provide a safe environment free of abuse, even when the perpetrators are other residents. It’s critical for families to be aware of the risks involved when their loved ones are placed under the care of nursing home staff.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse takes many forms. From obvious physical assaults to subtle emotional attacks, residents may undergo multiple types of abuse or neglect. Sexual abuse is another horrific issue taking place in care facilities at alarming rates. Many residents are left unable to defend themselves and are fearful of speaking up after assaults. Because of this, many instances of abuse go unreported.

Understanding Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a social problem that can affect seniors anywhere. It can happen at the hands of the elderly person’s own children, grandchildren, acquaintances or legal caregivers. Elder abuse generally involves someone else taking advantage of the victim financially, emotionally or even physically. Elder abuse causes severe losses in assets, dignity and overall self-esteem and leaves victims feeling helpless.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect is one of the most prevalent issues facing the nursing home industry. Facilities are chronically underfunded. Many are left so constrained by limited resources that they hire inexperienced staff members. These under qualified caregivers end up failing to meet minimum care requirements either knowingly or unknowingly. As a result, many residents wind up being neglected, which leads to serious health consequences or even death.

Learn the Basics of Senior Abuse

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Different Types of Elder Abuse (by %)

  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Financial Exploitation
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • All Other Types

The Various Types of Elder Abuse

elder abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse of the elderly involves the application of physical violence or force against an elder that results in physical impairment, physical pain, injury, or bodily harm to the individual.

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elder abuse

Sexual Abuse

Elder sexual abuse includes any sexual contact with an elder who, because of mental illness or dementia, cannot communicate their disapproval of the behavior against them and cannot communicate consent for the activity.

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elder abuse

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse against the elderly can happen in an assisted care facility or in a nursing home. Perpetrators can include volunteers, caregivers, family members, or other individuals employed at the nursing facility.

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financial abuse

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse of the elderly can be perpetrated by people they know or people they don’t know. The main perpetrators can be relatives of the elderly person, their spouse, or someone else they hold in their confidence.

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Demanding Dignity

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded on the principles of dignity and respect for some of the most vulnerable citizens, seniors.

Seniors have built a society of law, order and protection that we all enjoy today. They fought wars against tyranny, supported equality and built families and businesses that changed our world.

It’s time for us to protect them from abuse perpetrated in the “safest” of places. NHAC is a free online resource designed to inform and encourage improvements to the status quo.

Let’s stand together and protect our seniors.

When my family was trying to determine whether there was some kind of abuse going on at my mother's assisted living facility, the Nursing Home Abuse Center provided the information I needed to know.

I'm grateful for their free services, and that they were able to help me know how to protect my loved ones.

Garrett W.
Garrett W.

What Are Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Abuse in a nursing home is an ugly reality that often goes unnoticed. With so many different types of elder abuse, it can be difficult to know exactly what to look for. Beyond obvious physical symptoms like broken bones, there are many other signs of nursing home abuse that family members need to be aware of.

Family members may be able to spot signs of nursing home neglect over time. These signs can include the resident developing bedsores, emitting unhygienic odors and dwindling overall health levels. Sexual or emotional abuse may be detectable when the elderly person begins to withdraw, stops communicating and becomes fearful of being left alone with certain care staff or other people.

Additional signs of abuse and general mistreatment can include the resident having broken eyeglasses, dirty or soiled clothing or being unsuitably dressed for the weather. In some cases, the facility itself may indicate a poor environment. Check for faulty electrical wiring, improperly functioning utilities or general lack of maintenance. As a family member, it’s critical to be aware of the signs of elder abuse in a nursing home. Watching for signs can help stop abuse from worsening and can even save lives.



Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are a common sign of nursing home neglect. When immobile residents are left in bed for too long, they can develop sores on various parts of the body. Bedsores can lead to bleeding and eventually become infected if not treated. Bedsores can also continue to grow to the point where they expose muscle or even bone beneath.


Closeup of elderly woman drinking water from a glass

Dehydration is another common result of nursing home neglect. Some residents don’t even have their basic care needs met. Sadly, this includes not receiving enough water to drink. When residents don’t receive enough water, it can severely damage certain systems in the body. In serious cases, it can lead to kidney failure.

Medication Errors

elder abuse

Medication errors occur when the nursing home staff make mistakes in administering a residents’ medication. This can include giving the resident to high or too low of doses or giving them the wrong medication entirely.  Certain standards of medication error rates are required by state inspectors to keep nursing homes accountable to their residents.

Wrongful Death


Wrongful death describes a situation in nursing homes where a resident dies as a result of the neglect or abuse of a facility employee. Families can file wrongful death lawsuits against a nursing home in many different situations. There are several historic cases whereby families were awarded compensation from wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes.

Legal Compensation

Victims of abuse in nursing homes and their families can seek legal recourse against nursing homes due to their failure to provide a certain standard of care. Families have many options when it comes to taking legal action. They can hire private lawyers, access local bar associations or even qualify for government funded legal aid.

It’s important for families to seek legal advice so they understand the options they have for obtaining legal compensation from a nursing home legal compensation from a nursing home. Lawyers can also advise on the statute of limitations that nursing home abuse cases are subject to.

Ultimately, legal recourse helps victims and their families establish grounds for legal compensation and financial claims. Nursing home lawsuits can help recover any lost assets, pay for medical costs associated with the abuse or neglect, and compensate victims for their emotional or other damages.

Families should also be advised that there are lawyers who specialize in Elder Law. When searching for the right law firm to represent you, be sure to select a law team with experience in nursing home lawsuits.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

Nursing homes have a legal duty of care owed to their residents. When nursing homes fail to meet their responsibilities, families can file nursing home lawsuits in civil court. Nursing home lawsuits must follow a set legal process that can sometimes take years to complete. That’s why it’s important to acquire a professional legal defense team to help.

Choosing a Lawyer

When choosing a lawyer to help you pursue legal recourse against a nursing home, it’s critical to choose a professional whom you trust. There are many competent and ethical lawyers who have years of experience working with victims and families in the area of Elder Law. Lawyers will help families from start to finish in initiating and resolving a nursing home lawsuit.

Finding a Law Firm

When choosing a law firm to represent your nursing home lawsuit, it’s vital to choose an experienced, trustworthy team. Be sure ask about the firm’s track record and their fee structure. Ask them to provide references so you can see past examples of successful cases. Above all, it’s important to trust your gut and choose a firm you will have confidence in.

Get a Free Legal Case Review

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to compensation. We offer seniors and their families a free case review with a trusted legal partner. Complete our case review form today to learn more.