What Is Abuse And Neglect In Nursing Homes?

Nursing home neglect is similar to nursing home abuse; however, they are two separate issues. Nursing home abuse occurs when the staff of the nursing home intentionally harm the elder, be it physically, mentally, or financially. The key word here is intent — this is what truly distinguishes abuse from neglect. On the other hand, nursing home neglect occurs when the nursing home does not carry out its duties, or provides sub-standard care to the elder. Although both abuse and neglect are awful, the distinction is important as what they entail can often vary.

Nursing Home Abuse


Elders who have fallen victim to nursing home abuse have a 300 percent greater chance of death in the following three years. Unfortunately, this abuse can take a wide variety of forms. Nursing home abuse includes any of the following actions:

  • Sexual Abuse. Sexual abuse is one of the particularly heinous forms of nursing home abuse. It occurs when a staff member gives sexual attention to a patient who cannot express his or her wishes properly. Further, this often occurs when the patient has a cognitively compromising disease like dementia.
  • Psychological Abuse. Psychological abuse is not as easily identified as other forms of abuse, however the effects are just as real and lasting. This form of abuse includes yelling, criticizing, humiliating, or shaming the elder in any way. Often, this leads to drastic behavioral changes in the patient.
  • Financial Exploitation. Financial exploitation occurs when the nursing home staff takes advantage of their access to a patient’s financial information. This can include stealing from them, misappropriating funds, or compromising their financial status in any way. Sometimes, the staff member may even apply for credit in the patients name or steal from their bank accounts.
  • Resident to Resident Abuse. Resident to resident abuse does happen in nursing homes as well, although less frequently than other forms of abuse. This problem still may stem from the staff, however, as they are allowing one resident to abuse another. This issue often ties into negligence on the staffs’ behalf. Resident to resident abuse includes the aforementioned physical, psychological, and sexual abuse forms.

Nursing Home Neglect


Nursing home neglect is often harder to spot and investigate, as it doesn’t involve any intentional mistreatment. However, failing to provide the proper care for the elderly can be just as dangerous as any form of abuse. Nursing home neglect includes any of the following signs:

  • Emotional or Social Neglect. This occurs when the elder is continuously ignored by staff or left alone for extended periods of time. Further, such neglect can occur when an overstressed nursing home employee snaps at the patient unnecessarily.
  • Personal Hygiene Neglect. This occurs when the patient does not receive the necessary treatments from the nursing home. This frequently includes a lack of assistance with laundry, cleaning, bathing, brushing their teeth, and any other day-to-day hygienic practices. Part of the purpose of checking your loved one into a nursing home is to ensure they have help with the processes.
  • Basic Needs Neglect. This occurs when the nursing home fails to provide its patients with any form of basic necessities. Such necessities include reasonable and healthy amounts of food, clean water, and a safe and clean environment. Basic needs neglect can often be one of the worst forms of neglect, as the issue is inherent in the name — these needs are basic to anyone, especially a senior citizen.
  • Medical Neglect. This occurs if the nursing home fails to provide sufficient attention to the medical needs of its patients. These needs include prevention and medication for bed sores, infections, cuts, diabetes, cognitive diseases, and other mobility related issues. Medical neglect is often a life-threatening form of nursing home neglect.

Contact A Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you believe that a friend or family member has fallen victim to nursing home abuse or neglect, it is imperative you take action quickly. Contact the proper medical organizations and authorities, and then reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney to determine how to best proceed financially.