The Secret Enemy: Elder Abuse in Kentucky Nursing Homes

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She’s your favorite aunt—the one who secretly winked at you when your father was scolding you for staying out too late; who sent you postcards from every place she went; who never forgot to call you on your birthday; who gave you the best gifts (the ones your mom just rolled her eyes over when you pulled off the wrapping paper). Time marches on, and now this special aunt is a frail, elderly resident in a Louisville nursing home.

The thought of anyone at the nursing home treating her unkindly, let alone abusing her, makes you physically ill. Of course, you’d be able to tell if she were being abused, right?

Not necessarily.

Some abuse leaves clear evidence—bruises, cuts, or broken bones caused by rough handling or direct physical abuse; bedsores and dirty sheets resulting from neglect; bruises from arm or leg restraints; drastic behavioral changes from overmedication. Other forms of abuse are not as easy to detect.


According to, neglect is the most common type of abuse in nursing homes. Most cases of neglect in nursing homes are not reported and perhaps not even noticed. If no one helps a non-ambulatory resident get to the cafeteria, or if no one makes sure that a resident eats enough at each meal, the resident may become malnourished and ill and may even die of starvation.

Neglect can also be social. Maybe a resident is a bit crotchety or offensive in some way, so staff tend to avoid interacting with him. Another resident may be uncooperative or clingy, so employees steer clear of her room.

False Imprisonment

A type of abuse that is particularly difficult to notice without intensive, long-term observation is false imprisonment. This is when members of the nursing home staff prevent residents from moving outside an area, such as their room or a wing or floor of the building. The staff member may take away the resident’s walker, wheelchair, or crutches, or use verbal threats to keep the resident from feeling free to move around.


Sometimes a nursing home employee may steal personal property belonging to the resident or steal information that enables the employee to access bank accounts or credit cards. An employee may even coerce a resident into changing a will so that the employee is the beneficiary.

Verbal Abuse

A nursing home resident may be a victim of verbal abuse if he or she

  • acts afraid or apprehensive around particular employees;
  • is clearly depressed or angry;
  • becomes chronically depressed; or
  • shows symptoms of “false dementia,” such as rocking back and forth, sucking on fingers, and mumbling incoherently.

Has Your Loved One Been Injured In A Nursing Home?

If you believe your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse you need to speak with an experienced Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.