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Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

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Nursing home abuse can unfortunately occur in many different ways. Nursing home residents can be victims of physical abuse, sexual assault, and more. Additionally, neglect is another form of abuse that can cause severe harm and even death to frail nursing home residents. Learn about the different types of abuse in care facilities and what you can do if your loved one has suffered.

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What Are Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse?

Residents in nursing facilities should receive high-quality care, compassion, and support from their caregivers. Sadly, many become the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and other care homes.

Here are the most common types of abuse in nursing homes:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse includes any form of physical harm purposely inflicted on a nursing home resident. Nursing home staff, administrators, or other residents may commit physical abuse.

Forms of physical abuse include:

  • Hitting/punching a resident
  • Kicking a resident
  • Physically restricting a resident
  • Pushing/shoving a resident
  • Throwing objects at a resident

Like other types of abuse in nursing homes, physical abuse can lead to long-term mental or emotional impairment. It can also cause serious injuries that frail nursing home residents are not healthy enough to rebound from.

Stay alert and look for warning signs of physical abuse before they become deadly.

Some signs of physical abuse in nursing home residents include:

  • Broken glasses or other assistive devices
  • Bruising or cuts and bleeding
  • Unexplained broken bones

Physical abuse can be the easiest to detect because of the physical signs it leaves behind. However, injuries are often explained away by abusers as symptoms of existing conditions.

Did you know

Only 1 in 20 cases of physical elder abuse is reported to authorities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Don’t wait for your loved one to be seriously harmed. Get a free legal case review now to find out what options you may have if your loved one suffered any type of abuse in nursing homes.

Sexual Abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), 1.9% of elderly residents in long-term care institutions, such as assisted living or nursing facilities, suffer from sexual abuse.

Staff members may expose a resident to nudity, inappropriately touch their genitals, or even sexually assault them. These appalling types of abuse in nursing homes could lead to physical harm or even sexually transmitted diseases.

Any form of sexual contact with a resident in a long-term care facility may be considered sexual abuse since many cannot give consent.

If you think your loved one was the victim of sexual abuse, see if you can work with a nursing home abuse lawyer to find out your options.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect involves failing to provide a resident with personal care, hygiene, and medical attention. There are many forms of nursing home neglect that can cause serious harm to residents.

Did You Know

Nursing home neglect includes failing to reposition or move bedridden residents or those who use wheelchairs. This can result in excruciatingly painful stage 4 bedsores.

Medication Mistakes

Medication errors in nursing homes are among the most common forms of elder neglect. Medication mistakes can lead to severe injuries or even death and must be taken seriously.

Neglect of Diet and Nutrition

If a resident does not receive the food, water, or dietary supplements ordered by their care team, they could experience dehydration, malnutrition, or other physical health problems.

Neglect of Hygiene

Failing to bathe a resident or help with combing their hair, brushing their teeth, changing their sheets, or not cleaning their room is a form of neglect. Poor hygiene in nursing homes can lead to infections and more.

Other Forms of Neglect

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take other forms as well. For example, not reporting a resident’s injuries, not seeking timely medical care for an injury or illness, leaving them unattended, or not notifying a loved one if a resident passes away could be considered neglect.

The sad reality is that nursing home neglect can quickly lead to death in frail nursing home residents. In these tragic cases, loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

Skilled personal injury lawyers specializing in nursing home neglect can help you understand your legal rights. Get started now by finding out if you can file a nursing home lawsuit.

Other Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

While nursing home neglect and physical or sexual abuse can lead to bodily harm, there are other types of abuse in nursing homes that are red flags of a negligent care facility.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse: Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the most commonly cited type of nursing home abuse. It involves someone who cares for a nursing home resident using threats, intimidation, or insults to control them.

Emotional abuse is particularly alarming for nursing home residents since they are at the mercy of their caregivers and may feel frightened about reporting abuse to loved ones.

Staff may emotionally abuse residents by:

  • Insulting a resident, such as making fun of limited mobility, verbal issues, or appearance
  • Keeping residents isolated from friends, other residents, or family members (restricting visitation)
  • Limiting a resident’s social activities
  • Making threats, such as to harm the resident or restrict their activity

People who suffer emotional abuse may have long-term mental health effects, such as extreme depression or anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fear of the facility or its staff members, or fear of a new facility or its staff members.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse: Financial Abuse

Financial exploitation of elders, or financial abuse, occurs in nursing homes when someone takes advantage of a resident’s finances.

This could include unauthorized access to their bank accounts, use of their credit cards, manipulating health insurance payments, and other forms of financial misuse.

This type of elder abuse can lead to financial ruin for any resident, especially those on fixed incomes.

Some financial signs of nursing home abuse include unexplained debit or credit card charges, a depleted bank account, or health insurance statements that don’t align with medical care.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse: Self-Neglect

Self-neglect can be a devastating side effect of nursing home abuse. Residents may stop eating or drinking water, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration.

They may also refuse to take medications or engage in other forms of self-neglect, often due to anxiety, fear, PTSD, or intimidation from nursing home staff or other residents.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse: Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse in nursing homes is a form of psychological abuse that involves the intentional use of words to threaten or otherwise harm residents.

Examples of verbal abuse in nursing home facilities include:

  • Belittling a resident with words/insults
  • Dismissing a resident’s verbal concerns
  • Mocking a resident
  • Using curse words when speaking to a resident
  • Yelling at a resident

Who Is at Risk of the Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home abuse is unfortunately common, and any resident is at risk. Not all nursing homes will put residents at risk of abuse, but many do. So, how do you identify who is most at risk of abuse in a nursing home?

The best way to safeguard your loved one from the various types of abuse in nursing homes is to thoroughly vet the facility.

Nursing homes should have the following:

  • Accreditations through third-party organizations, such as The Joint Commission
  • Certified staff training, such as in CPR services or nursing services
  • Compliance with federal and state requirements
  • Licensed/certified nurses, such as RNs and LPNs
  • Testimonials from happy residents and their family members
  • Transparent staff background information

You cannot fully guarantee your loved one’s safety by seeking out a high-quality nursing home. However, placing your loved one in a top-notch facility can help minimize some of the common causes of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Finding a properly staffed facility with highly trained and educated staff can help protect your loved one from various types of nursing home abuse.

Who Commits the Various Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents may suffer abuse by anyone in charge of their physical or personal and medical care or finances.

One study by the National Institutes of Health reports that staff members who have reported nursing home abuse believe lack of training may contribute to the problem. This could be particularly true for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), who most often provide direct care to residents.

Here is who commits the various types of abuse in nursing homes:

  • Nursing home CNAs and other staff members
  • Nursing home management and administrators
  • Other nursing home residents
  • Visiting family members or loved ones

What to Do If Your Loved One Has Been Harmed

In many cases, you can seek justice for your loved one and compensation for any resulting medical bills from their injuries or pain and suffering.

Here are some steps to take for the types of abuse in nursing homes:

  1. Report the abuse to the facility. This step is important for documentation if you decide to take legal action.
  2. Report the abuse to the police. The NCEA urges people who suspect abuse to file a police report right away to help seek the appropriate form of help. Always call 911 in an emergency.
  3. Contact an ombudsman or Adult Protective Services (APS). An ombudsman is a government official who will investigate the alleged abuse. APS can help coordinate with mental health experts, medical care teams, the police, and other parties to protect the resident.
  4. Reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney. An attorney can explain your legal options, provide a free consultation to review your case, and help you understand the next best steps.

To learn more about the types of abuse in nursing homes or to hear about your legal options, connect with the Nursing Home Abuse Center now for a free case review.

We may be able to connect you with one of the best nursing home law firms in the country.

FAQs About Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

What are the 7 types of abuse nursing home residents may experience?

The 7 types of abuse in a nursing home are physical abuse, sexual assault, nursing home neglect, financial abuse, emotional abuse, self-neglect, and verbal abuse.

Some types of abuse in nursing homes cause physical injury and even death. However, even if nursing home abuse does not cause physical harm, it can have severe consequences for vulnerable residents.

How common are the types of abuse in nursing homes?

Sadly, very common. There are many self-reports of abuse by residents in nursing homes, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.

In addition, due to a lack of research on the issue, experts believe that reported numbers of elder abuse in nursing homes and other institutions are much lower than the level of abuse that actually occurs.

Can you file a lawsuit for the types of abuse in nursing homes?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit for the various types of abuse in nursing homes if your loved one suffered serious injuries or other forms of physical harm caused by abuse.

Get started now with a free legal case review. We may be able to connect you with a top nursing home abuse law firm near you.

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. Bonnie RJ, Wallace RB, ed. (2003). Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America. “14 Elder Abuse in Residential Long-Term Care Settings: What Is Known and What Information Is Needed?” Accessed June 1, 2023 from
  2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2023 May 30). “Nursing Homes.” Accessed June 1, 2023 from
  3. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (2023). “Adult Protective Services.”
  4. National Center on Elder Abuse (n.d.). “Research and Statistics.” Accessed June 1, 2023 from
  5. U.S. Department of Justice. (n.d.). “Elder Abuse Statistics” Accessed June 27, 2023 from