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Types of Nursing Home Abuse and How to Spot Them

  • Apr 16, 2018
  • The Harr Law Firm

Nursing Home Abuse AttorneyPlacing your loved on in a nursing home is a difficult decision to make. However, if your family member needs medical care or around-the-clock assistance, professional assistance is needed. You’ve probably taken some time in choosing the right nursing home for your loved one. Unfortunately, potential nursing home abuse is a real concern and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here you’ll discover the different types of abuse and how to spot them and keep your loved one safe.

Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse

The elderly are vulnerable to nursing home abuse, because they can be physically and mentally weak. Below is a list of common types of abuse and possible signs to look for. Generally, you should be able to visit your loved one without notifying the nursing home that you’re coming, and you should be allowed to see them without a caregiver present.

Physical Elder Abuse

Physical elder abuse can be a threat to any patient in a nursing home. While it includes physical assaults like hitting and shoving, a likelier scenario would be the inappropriate usage of restraints, confinement, or drugs. If you notice any unexplained bruises or scars, broken bones or dislocations, rope marks, or broken eyeglasses, these could be a sign that abuse is going on. Prescription overdose or not taking medication regularly are also warning signs of physical abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Nursing home patients can be vulnerable to emotional abuse. That’s when they’re exposed to threats, humiliation, ridicule, or isolation. Emotional abuse could also be evidenced by blaming or ignoring the elderly person or preventing them from joining their friends or participating in activities. All of these can cause psychological pain. If you notice that the caregiver is controlling or threatens or belittles your loved one, that’s a sign of emotional abuse. Your loved one may be scared to tell you what’s going on, but they could exhibit behavior like rocking, sucking, or mumbling to themselves – much like a patient with dementia.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be any contact with an elderly person without their explicit consent. In addition to sexual acts, this could include showing a nursing home resident pornographic material or forcing them to undress. If your loved one has bruises around their breasts or genitals or unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, these are signs of sexual abuse. You may also notice that your loved one has torn, stained, or even bloody undergarments.

Financial Exploitation

There are different ways to exploit the elderly financially. An unscrupulous caregiver may misuse the elderly’s funds or property or even steal money or personal property from them. They can also forge the elderly’s signature. The elderly are also vulnerable to scams in the shape of phony charities or fraudulent investments. If you notice significant bank withdrawals or sudden changes in the financial condition of the elderly, financial exploitation might be going on. Financial exploitation could also be evidenced in changes to a will or changes to titles and policies in the elderly’s name.


When the caregiver doesn’t fulfill their obligations in properly caring for the elderly, this constitutes neglect. This is the most common type of elderly abuse, but it can be intentional or unintentional. You can spot signs of neglect by looking for signs of malnutrition or dehydration in your loved one. Your loved one may also not have been bathed or have untreated physical problems. The condition of the nursing home may showcase neglect. For example, if you notice that the living conditions are unsanitary or unsafe, the nursing home is neglecting their duties to your loved one.

What to Do in Case of Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, it’s important to document what’s going on. You must collect as much information as possible, including the names of the staff and managers on duty. You should talk to your loved one privately and verify if they need assistance with their injuries. You may want to consider moving them to another nursing home. You can report nursing home abuse to the state to ensure that the case will be investigated. Additionally you may want to speak to an experienced attorney about your case.

Nursing home abuse can take on different forms. You may be dealing with a personal injury or medical malpractice case. Either way, The Harr Law Firm will be happy to talk to you about your situation and answer any questions that you may have. Give them a call to schedule a consultation.