What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is any type of harm experienced by residents in assisted living and other long-term care facilities. This includes physical or emotional injuries, sexual assault, and financial exploitation.
Families put their trust in nursing homes to watch over their loved ones, yet nursing homes don’t always provide the safe environments that are expected. Reports of residents suffering various forms of nursing home abuse make national headlines each year.
Many cases of nursing home abuse stem from the staff — the very people hired to provide care — or other residents. Other instances arise from greedy corporations that sacrifice proper staff training and other quality measures to make a profit at the residents’ expense.
Regardless of the reasons, nursing home abuse is never acceptable. If you believe your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, you have options.
Report any signs of nursing home abuse to the proper authorities, and call 911 if they are in immediate danger. You may also be able to hold negligent facilities accountable and get nursing home abuse compensation so your loved one can receive the care they deserve.
Find out if we can help with a free case review right now.
Statistics on Abuse in Nursing Homes
- 1 in 6 adults aged 60 or older suffer some type of abuse each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
- 2 in 3 staff members reported committing nursing home abuse in the past year, according to WHO
- Nearly 1 out of 3 nursing homes in the U.S. have been issued citations for abuse
- Nursing home abuse (along with elder abuse in general) often goes unreported, according to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
- 27 million people will need care from nursing homes, in-home aides, or other long-term care programs by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Since 1 in 5 people in the U.S. will be 65 or older by 2030, these problems may increase and do not seem to be going away any time soon
Becoming educated about nursing home abuse and elder abuse statistics is an important way to stay informed. By knowing the facts and what to watch for, you can make sure your loved one stays safe.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can be broken down into a few general types, including physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. Additionally, nursing home neglect is considered a form of abuse.
It is important for family members to know which type or types of nursing home abuse their loved one is suffering from and report it. By reporting nursing home abuse, you can prevent your loved one from further mistreatment and protect other residents.
Learn about the different nursing home abuse types below. Keep in mind that your loved one could suffer from multiple types of abuse at once.
Nursing Home Abuse Causes
A wide range of factors can cause nursing home abuse. Many causes of nursing home abuse stem from problems with nursing home employees or the corporations running the facilities.
Below are some of the common causes of nursing home abuse.
Staff members may have to work long hours, and dealing with residents’ needs can be physically and emotionally taxing. Instead of letting out their frustrations in a healthy way, staff members may verbally or physically lash out at residents in the form of nursing home abuse.
Additionally, mistakes and errors stemming from fatigue and extended shifts can be life-threatening to residents.
Corporations that run multiple nursing homes often try to maximize profits, potentially leading to a number of problems.
For example, a nursing home may hire staff members with no experience at a cheaper rate and fail to properly train or monitor them, making nursing home abuse and inadequate care more likely.
In 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice forced a California skilled nursing facility and management company to pay almost $4 million for bribing doctors to refer more patients to their facility.
Unethical behavior like this often leads to nursing home abuse, as it prioritizes money over proper care and safety for residents.
Staff members may try taking advantage of residents. They might get close to them and then steal their money by forging checks or using their credit cards without permission.
This betrayal not only takes away the residents’ hard-earned savings but also breaks the trust they should have in a place meant to keep them safe and cared for.
Lack of Supervision
If inattentive staff members aren’t properly supervised, a resident could face significant neglect for hours or even days at a time. They can also fall victim to nursing home abuse.
This lack of oversight means essential needs may go unmet, from missed medications to inadequate hygiene care, increasing the risk of health complications.
Nursing home understaffing can place great stress on current employees. A lower ratio of nurses to residents can negatively impact the overall health care a nursing facility provides, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This includes increased rates of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can show up in many ways.
Here are some common signs of nursing home abuse to watch out for.
- Being scared of particular residents or staff members
- Complaining about treatment from staff members
- Increased signs of anxiety and/or depression
Some residents might stay quiet about abuse if they’re too scared or if health issues like dementia make communication hard. Further, some warning signs of nursing home abuse might be missed at first if you aren’t looking out for them.
These issues show why closely watching over your loved one is crucial.
Take action right away if you notice anything concerning that could mean your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse.
How To Prevent Abuse in Nursing Homes
Preventing elder abuse in nursing homes is vital for the safety and dignity of residents.
Here are steps you can take to help prevent nursing home abuse:
- Before choosing a nursing home, clearly identify your loved one’s care needs to ensure you find a facility that can best help them.
- Research different nursing homes and check if they have good ratings and enough staff.
- Visit the nursing home often, including at different times. This will help you determine if it provides adequate care at all times.
- Stay in touch with the staff and doctors, and watch the care your loved one is receiving.
- Learn the signs of abuse and take photos and detailed notes of anything unusual during visits.
- Know who to talk to in the facility if you have concerns and report nursing home abuse promptly.
- If you think abuse is happening, get help from legal professionals or state organizations.
Remember: It’s never acceptable for nursing homes to abuse or neglect your loved one. Being diligent and staying involved is the best way to stop cases of abuse before they happen.
How To Report Nursing Home Abuse
Reporting nursing home abuse is a critical step in protecting loved ones and ensuring staff members are held accountable.
Follow these steps to take action:
- Identify the abuse: Learn about the signs of nursing home abuse to help you recognize when it could be happening.
- Document evidence: Keep detailed records of any signs of nursing home abuse, including photos, videos, dates, times, and descriptions.
- Speak up: Talk to the nursing home administration about your concerns and contact a nursing home ombudsman for additional support.
- Contact authorities: If the situation does not improve or is severe, report the abuse to local law enforcement or adult protective services (APS).
- Seek legal advice: Consider contacting a nursing home abuse law firm to discuss your options and ensure your family’s rights are protected.
Reporting abuse can prevent further harm and help maintain a safe environment for all residents. Your action can make a significant difference.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Residents and families facing nursing home abuse may want to consult a nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss their legal options.
Though police action may put abusers behind bars, victims may still be left with high medical bills or strained finances. Nursing home abuse lawyers work on their client’s behalf to help them receive the highest amount of compensation possible in the shortest amount of time.
Families may receive money to cover lost savings, medical bills, and other expenses through nursing home abuse lawsuits filed by lawyers.
A nursing home abuse attorney can:
- Gather the evidence needed to build a strong case, like medical records
- File a lawsuit against staff members, administrators, and corporations
- Secure financial compensation for medical bills and other expenses
Having helped other victims, experienced lawyers are well aware of the devastating impacts of abuse. Therefore, they will do all they can to assist your family.
Find out if we can connect you with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney now with a free case review.
Nursing Home Abuse Laws
Across the nation, nursing home abuse laws have been established by state, local, and federal governments to prevent residents from getting hurt and to bring abusers to justice.
State elder abuse laws provide residents with varying degrees of protection. Some states have established nursing home abuse task forces to keep residents safe. Other state laws allow hidden cameras in facilities to catch abusers in the act.
Federal nursing home abuse laws mandate that assisted living facilities must report and investigate allegations of abuse or neglect that are reported to the state.
Federal regulations and state laws continue to evolve. And with the help of law enforcement and attorneys, victims of nursing home abuse can seek justice.
Get Legal Help for Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is a heinous and inexcusable act. It should be addressed and reported immediately to prevent more harm from being done.
To report nursing home abuse, talk to local authorities such as the police, adult protective services, or a long-term care ombudsman program. If your loved one still lives in the nursing home where they were abused, you may want to consider moving them somewhere else to protect their safety.
If you believe your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, our team can help you determine your next steps.
Nursing Home Abuse FAQs
What is the most common abuse in nursing homes?
The most common type of nursing home abuse is psychological or emotional abuse. This includes behaviors that harm a person’s self-worth or emotional well-being.
Physical nursing home abuse, like hitting or kicking, is also common. Different studies show varying levels of abuse, but these two types are frequently reported in nursing homes.
What is an example of abuse in a care home?
Examples of abuse in a care home include:
- Hitting or pushing residents
- Ignoring a resident’s needs or requests
- Stealing money or belongings from residents
- Touching residents inappropriately
- Yelling at or insulting residents
What are the 7 types of elder abuse?
Seven types of elder abuse are:
- Physical Abuse: Harming through physical force
- Psychological Abuse: Causing emotional pain
- Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact
- Financial Exploitation: Misusing or stealing money
- Neglect: Ignoring basic needs, like food, water, and proper hygiene
- Self-Neglect: Older adults failing to care for themselves
- Abandonment: Deserting an older person who depends on others for care
Call (855) 264-6310 now if you believe a loved one has been abused or neglected while living in a nursing home.
We may be able to connect you with a top nursing home law firm to help you get justice and financial compensation.
What factors put people at risk of abuse in nursing homes?
While any resident can suffer from nursing home abuse, some are at a higher risk than others. For example, female residents and those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are more likely to be abused.
Additionally, residents who do not have loved ones regularly checking in on them may also be at a greater risk of nursing home abuse. Family and friends are often the first line of defense in recognizing the signs of abuse early on.
How many cases of nursing home abuse are reported?
Many nursing home abuse cases go unreported, making it hard to know the true extent of abuse.
For instance, a study showed that 1 in 5 emergency room Medicare claims from assisted living residents might be due to nursing home abuse or neglect. Yet, about 6,000 cases in the study weren’t properly reported to law enforcement.
Fear or health issues like dementia can make it hard for residents to report nursing home abuse, so it’s important for families to keep a close watch.
Do for-profit nursing homes have higher rates of abuse?
Recent research has associated for-profit facilities with higher rates of nursing home abuse.
Residents in private equity-acquired nursing homes were 11.1% more likely to have preventable emergency room visits and 8.7% more likely to face avoidable hospitalizations, according to a 2022 White House study.
A separate study reported residents in for-profit nursing homes faced nearly double the risk of health issues from poor care compared to those in not-for-profit homes. These for-profit homes also had higher rates of neglect and were generally of lower quality.
The New York Times found that about 75% of for-profit nursing homes in the U.S. pay companies they own for some care aspects and services. This setup allows corporate leaders to funnel nursing home funds back into their pockets, essentially paying themselves.