Types of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes

If our elderly loved ones need living options, placing them in the care of nursing home staff might seem like the best option at first. For some, it may be a choice they eventually come to regret. The reason is the types of abuse and neglect that their senior loved ones have gone through.

Are all nursing homes bad? No they’re not. However, that doesn’t change the fact that such abuse and neglect in these facilities exist.

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In this guide, we’ll discuss the types of abuse and neglect in nursing homes that can happen. It can be something that could happen to your senior loved one. Or maybe you’re looking for any signs of possible abuse.

Please review this guide carefully if you believe you have concerns about any possible abuse your senior loved one may have experienced. Let’s take a look now at what you need to know about the types of abuse and neglect.

1. Physical abuse

Typically, this type of abuse will stem from any physical violence made by a member of the nursing home staff. It can also include punching, kicking, pushing, and shoving. Signs of physical abuse will pertain to any unexplained injuries.

You may notice cuts, bruises, or any injuries that are unexplained. If this happens, you know for sure that physical abuse is a problem for your senior loved one. As a precaution, it may be a good idea to consult with their doctor for an examination if necessary.

2. Emotional/psychological abuse

Abuse may not always be physical. This is the case with emotional or psychological abuse. Staff members may inflict this kind by way of verbal abuse, teasing, harassment, or intimidation among other methods. Such examples include a staff member yelling at a resident for being forgetful, even if the elderly individual is dealing with cognitive issues.

Such signs of this type of abuse range from uncharacteristic behavior, avoidance of staff, social isolation, and other behaviors that may seem outside of the norm for your senior loved one. This type of abuse can lead to the need for mental health counseling for them.

You may find a social worker or therapist that specializes with geriatrics in your local area. For more information, find an organization related to senior citizen causes that may point you in the right direction. The sooner you can find such assistance for your senior loved one, the better.

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3. Neglect

There are different types of neglect that exist in a nursing home. This includes basic needs neglect and medical neglect. So how are they distinguished?

Basic needs neglect pertains to the deprivation of food, water, and medication. Signs of this type include but are not limited to malnutrition and hydration. Your senior loved one may experience certain adverse health effects that may be associated with any conditions that need to be treated regularly with medication.

If you notice any subtle or obvious signs of neglect, you need to report it as soon as possible to the necessary individuals including senior staff and supervisors.

4. Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is constituted as unwanted sexual acts performed without the consent of the individual. However, it can also be considered as such if nursing home staff make lewd remarks (sexual harassment) or present sexually explicit materials against their will. Keep in mind that severe forms of sexual abuse will warrant medical examinations.

5. Institutional abuse

In layman’s terms, this is another word for nursing home abuse and neglect. Institutional abuse occurs in a similar setting such as assisted living facilities and similar institutions where staff members may abuse senior individuals. Such abuse can be present in the various forms already mentioned on the list.

What should be done to combat abuse and neglect in nursing homes?

Nursing homes should provide a safe living arrangement for senior individuals. Especially those who may have limited abilities that may prevent them from living independently. That’s why such individuals need to make sure that no instances of abuse occur on their premises.

It is important for administrators to take a look at their current situation including their current employment roster. Understaffing is considered one of the risk factors that may lead more to neglect than abuse. This can be due to the fact that with less staff on hand and more residents, some of these seniors may be forgotten, leading to an increased chance of neglect.

Causes of the short-staffing may need to be found and addressed accordingly so that senior individuals receive the ongoing care that they need. Another thing for nursing home management to be aware of is the kind of people they hire.

You may have a team of individuals who are compassionate and caring both inside and outside of the housing environment. But you may also have others that may be dealing with issues of their own, which can affect the overall performance and quality of their duties. It is important to hire individuals who are willing to work with others, especially senior citizens that are dealing with regular struggles.

It takes patience, compassion, and understanding on one’s part. Such individuals that do not possess these qualities need not apply.

What are the consequences of abuse and neglect in nursing homes?

Nursing homes that face allegations of abuse and neglect will face heavy amounts of scrutiny. Specifically, it will come from family members of the senior residents. They will begin to question whether or not their loved ones are in a safe environment.

It goes to show how serious it is to make sure America’s seniors are cared for in a nursing home or similar facilities. No such place should ever have to go through the embarrassment or the tarnishing of their reputation because of abuse and neglect of their residents.

What should you do if your senior loved one has been abused or neglected?

If any signs of abuse or neglect have been confirmed, you will need to take action as soon as possible. This is a race against the clock due to several different factors. One, it may be a matter of time before your senior loved one faces abuse again at the hands of malignant staff members.

Be sure to remove your senior loved one from the facility as soon as possible. This will ensure that they are safe and protected by any means necessary. Even if it means providing them with temporary living space in your home, it should be done.


Knowing the types of abuse and neglect will be important. You should also consider learning about the signs – subtle and obvious – so you can be able to address any concerns that may arise. Your senior loved one deserves to live in a safe environment where they receive excellent care from a compassionate staff.

No senior should ever want to live out the remainder of their life in less than ideal conditions. If you believe your senior loved one may be abused or neglected in a nursing home, please take the necessary actions as soon as possible.