Elder Abuse in Residential Long-Term Care Settings

Having an elderly family member in a residential long-term care setting may seem like a good arrangement for them. However, there are concerns that you may have and can be valid enough. Especially when it pertains to the health, safety, and well-being of your senior loved one.

Elder abuse in a long-term care setting does happen. The question is: is your senior loved one a victim of such abuse? It is important that you know the types of elder abuse along with the signs you may need to identify.

This guide will discuss the reasons why such abuse may exist. Furthermore, we’ll cover what you need to do in order to take decisive, immediate action. The health and safety of your elderly loved ones depend on it.

Let’s waste no time and get started on what you need to know.

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What are the types of elder abuse in a residential long-term care setting?

To begin, we’re going to set the foundation by going over the types of elder abuse that exist in a residential long-term care setting. It is important that you know what these are along with the signs that confirm it (which we’ll cover later on). Let’s take a look at the following:

Physical abuse

Signs of physical abuse can be noticeable such as cuts and bruises. However, it may be hard to prove the origin of those injuries without being able to take certain matters into your own hands. Plus, it may be hard to prove who may have caused the physical injuries at first.

This abuse stems from violence against elderly individuals. In a residential long-term care setting, members of the staff may be the common perpetrators. If you need to take action to address any concerns, even look for proof of abuse, you may need to do so within legal means.

Of course, it never hurts to consult with an attorney that specializes in elder abuse. They will provide you with any information on what actions you need to take if there is any suspected elder abuse – physical or otherwise.

Emotional/mental abuse

Such abuse doesn’t always have to exhibit physical signs. To the trained and familiar eye, it may take the most subtle characteristic changes that can raise concerns for emotional and mental abuse. For others, spotting obvious changes in an elderly person’s behavior could be another sign that emotional or mental abuse may be to blame.

It is important for individuals to know the signs of emotional and mental abuse. One of them are any uncharacteristic behaviors that an elderly family member may exhibit. If such concerns arise, it may be a good idea to get a social worker or a therapist involved if necessary.

A professional in mental health that specializes with geriatrics can be your best option. They will work with your elderly loved one and you (the next of kin) in order to figure out what may be the cause of the uncharacteristic behavior and whether it is associated with mental or emotional abuse.

Even after the problem has been solved (identifying the abuser and so on), an elderly individual may still need long-term mental health care from a specialized therapist. You as a member of that individual’s family can accompany them during the sessions, so long as you adhere to confidentiality agreements.

Financial exploitation

Elderly individuals, including those who may not be in the right frame of mind, may become victims of financial exploitation. Meaning individuals like staff members could steal financial information, cash, credit cards, or related materials. 

For example, an elderly individual may be manipulated into withdrawing cash from their bank account. Then the cash is handed over to a member of the staff who is not authorized to handle financial transactions on the former’s behalf. There are different types of financial exploitation that can exist.

Even over the phone scams are a form of financial exploitation. That’s why it is important to implement safeguards for your elderly loved one so they are not victims of any situations involving their personal finances.

This can have plenty of negative consequences including the inability to afford the basic essentials like food, medication, or similar resources.

What are the factors that contribute to elder abuse?

Now that you’re aware of the types of elder abuse that exists, you want to know what the factors are that contribute to it. For one, management issues could play a role. Needless to say, this comprises several issues rolled into a major disaster.

Such issues include but are not limited to:

  • Low pay
  • Understaffing
  • Lack of proper training and equipment

Management issues and understaffing can lead to errors regarding judgment or forgetfulness. It will be tough to keep up with all of the residents in long-term care because of the lack of hands on deck. The best solution is to hire individuals that are qualified to take on their respective tasks and responsibilities.

As such, it is important that elderly individuals are taken care of regularly by a caring and compassionate staff. One thing to be aware of is that they should have the character and demeanor to care for those who are other people’s parents, grandparents, or other family members. This also applies to their willingness to work well with others.

Staffers must behave in a way where they are professional and leave their personal feelings of others at the door. Such issues may cause them to perform their jobs poorly. Which can also lead to incidents where a staffer may have negative interactions with individuals including elderly residents and facility staff.

If you’re someone who is working as a CNA or a staffer in a residential long-term care setting, imagine this: how would you treat your parents, grandparents, or other relatives if they were elderly? If you want them to be cared for in the best way possible, you’d want to do the same for others.

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What are the warning signs of elder abuse?

Looking out for warning signs of elder abuse will be your most important task. Keep in mind that not all signs need to be physical to confirm it. Let’s take a look at the following on what to look out for:

Physical signs

This can include bruises, cuts, scrapes, and similar signs of injury. If they occur on a regular basis, this could signal abuse. It should also be noted that you should look out for any signs of neglect.

For example, if you notice any signs of dehydration, malnutrition, or even bed sores (if the elderly individual is frequently immoble), you will need to have the situation addressed as soon as possible.

Behavioral changes

These are obvious signs where mental and emotional abuse is present. Often, such behaviors will be out of character for your elderly family member. Some of these may be more subtle than others.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it may be a good idea to raise any concerns about emotional or mental abuse. Be observant of your senior loved one’s behaviors at all times – even if things seem a little outside of the “baseline” behavior that they exhibit.

Unexplained financial transactions

Financial exploitation can happen to almost any senior individual. Especially if they are dealing with situations where cognitive functions are declining. If you notice any financial transactions from your senior loved one’s bank account that appear out of the ordinary, address them as soon as possible.

Seniors can also be victims of scams that happen over the phone. As such, staff members of a facility may also steal cash or bank cards for their own personal use. If necessary, talk to your senior loved one’s financial institution about possibly being allowed to monitor any activity – even if it means attaching your name to the account.

What should be done if elder abuse is confirmed?

At this point, if elder abuse is confirmed, it is important to make sure your senior loved one is in a safe environment. Even if it means that they have to live with you or another member of your family temporarily. Next, it is important to exercise your legal options going forward.

It is important to consult with a lawyer that specializes in elder abuse. They will provide you with advice on how to pursue the abuse situation going forward.


Elder abuse in a residential long-term care setting must be addressed as soon as possible. You now have a guide of what types exist along with warning signs to look out for. It is important that residential long-term care facilities address any factors that may contribute to elder abuse.

It can be stopped by putting the right measures in place. This includes what management can do when hiring individuals who are willing to care for others – especially senior citizens in a certain living situation while dealing with health issues.