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Recent Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes: Case Studies

Elder abuse is far more common than many people would like to believe. What’s worse, recent reports confirm that nursing home abuse skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Help keep your loved ones safe by reading these recent case studies on elder abuse in nursing homes. Accepting that elder abuse is a real problem is the first step in preventing it.

Examples of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes: A Nationwide Problem

Nursing home abuse happens when trust is violated through an act — or a failure to act — that harms an older person. It can include emotional, financial, physical, or sexual abuse as well as nursing home neglect.

Tragically, a 2020 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly 1 in 6 adults 60 years old and over were the victims of elder abuse in nursing homes and other community settings.

Even worse, the WHO warns that this already alarming figure is likely to be too low since only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse is ever reported.

Recent case studies on elder abuse in nursing homes show that this is, unfortunately, a nationwide problem.

The most common forms of nursing home abuse are:

Thankfully, help is available if you or a loved one suffered nursing home abuse or neglect. Get a free case review to see if you can access legal compensation right now.

Examples of Case Studies on Elder & Nursing Home Abuse

1. Suspected Nursing Home Abuse in Massachusetts

After hundreds of 911 calls were made about suspected nursing home abuse, a criminal investigation is underway against an assisted living facility in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Several of the heartbreaking reports include:

  • After responding to a call about a faulty ventilator, firefighters found that none of the electrical outlets in a resident’s room were working
  • An injured nursing home resident was on the floor asking for help, but when firefighters asked the staff member in charge about it, she just laughed
  • Firefighters found staff performing CPR on a man who had already been dead for hours

Further, in a case of suspected physical abuse at the same nursing home, the daughter of a dementia patient found her mother’s face severely battered.

“It was horrific. She had a huge gash on her forehead and a lump the size of a golf ball, her whole face was bruised.”

– Daughter of Massachusetts nursing home resident

These examples reveal a widespread pattern of abuse and neglect by staff, which will hopefully be corrected. No nursing home resident should ever have to endure these hardships.

2. Nursing Home Sexual Abuse in Minneapolis

A male caregiver at a Minneapolis care facility was sentenced to eight years in prison for the rape of a nursing home resident with Alzheimer’s disease.

“My final memories of my mother’s life now include watching her bang uncontrollably on her private parts for days after the rape, with tears rolling down her eyes, apparently trying to tell me what had been done to her, but unable to speak.”

– Daughter of sexual abuse victim

A follow-up investigation by CNN revealed that the rapist had assaulted multiple other residents, including those who suffered from mental or physical handicaps, before he was finally caught.

3. Nursing Home Neglect in Iowa

A nursing home resident in Iowa died after extreme neglect related to dehydration. The emergency room doctor believes she died from a stroke after not receiving any type of fluid for at least four to five days. The nursing home was fined $77,463.

Examples of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes During the Pandemic

While nursing home abuse and neglect were already a very serious issue, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic made things even worse.

According to Human Rights Watch, neglect and isolation may be responsible for causing severe damage to countless nursing homes residents during the COVID-19 crisis.

Recent nursing home abuse case studies revealed:

  • A resident in her 80s who was healthy and pre-pandemic died shortly after visitation stopped due to suspected malnutrition
  • In less than a year, a dementia patient living in a nursing home went from 106 pounds to 82 pounds before being discharged and dying several days later
  • A dementia patient in her 70s lost 20 pounds during the pandemic and developed painful bedsores on her buttocks and toes

Why Does Elder Abuse Happen in Nursing Homes?

Elder abuse in nursing homes is believed to occur for several reasons.

Nursing home abuse may happen due to:

  • Understaffing
  • Inadequate staff training, especially in dementia care
  • Lack of supervision
  • Staff burnout

No matter what the explanations for elder abuse are, it is never acceptable. All nursing home residents deserve to be free from harm and properly cared for.

How Common Is Elder Abuse?

Although there is a lack of concrete data, recent reports suggest that elder abuse is common.

It is believed that elder abuse is more likely to occur with nursing home residents than with older adults living in community settings. In fact, 2 in 3 nursing home staff members admitted to abusing or neglecting residents in the 2020 WHO report.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

The most common signs of nursing home abuse are physical symptoms and any type of sudden change in behavior.

Depending on the form, some additional signs of nursing home abuse may include:

  • Bruising, scars, or welts seen on the body
  • Mumbling, sucking one’s thumb, or rocking
  • Unexplained STDs or other genital infections
  • Bedsores, malnutrition, or dehydration

Get Help For Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

If you or a loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Money awarded in a nursing home lawsuit can help pay for medical expenses and bring peace of mind.

The Nursing Home Abuse Center is dedicated to helping victims of nursing home neglect, abuse, and wrongful death. Contact us now to find out if we can help you and your family.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

  1. BMC Health Services Research. (2020). Elder Abuse And Neglect: An Overlooked Patient Safety Issue. A Focus Group Study Of Nursing Home Leaders’ Perceptions Of Elder Abuse And Neglect. Retrieved August 14, 2021 from
  2. Fiandaca, C. (2021). I-Team: Watertown Long-Term Care Facility Investigated For Possible Abuse, Neglect. CBS Boston. Retrieved from August 14, 2021
  3. Human Rights Watch. (2021). Us: Concerns Of Neglect In Nursing Homes. Retrieved August 14, 2021 from
  4. Merrilees, A. (2019). '83 Years Old, Unable To Speak, Unable To Fight Back.' Daughters Share Heartbreaking Stories Of Abuse In Nursing Homes. ABC News. Retrieved from August 14, 2021
  5. World Health Organization. (2021). Elder Abuse. Retrieved August 14, 2021 from