What Abuse in Nursing Homes Looks Like

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When a resident in a nursing home is harmed due to neglect or intentional physical injury, it’s abuse. Family members place their elderly loved ones into nursing homes so they’ll receive the full-time care and attention they require for their physical safety. When a beloved elderly family member suffers physical harm, emotional injury, or death due to the actions or negligent inaction of nursing home caregivers, it leaves the elderly individual and their family members devastated.

People have a right to expect their aging parents and grandparents to be treated with the care, compassion, respect, and dignity they’ve earned over a lifetime of experience. Still, vulnerable elderly nursing home residents are injured every day due to abuse. Around five million people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities experience abuse each year in the United States.

If you believe you or your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, don’t hesitate to contact our nursing home abuse attorneys in Louisville. At Gray & White Law, we will fight to get the justice you or your loved one deserves. Call us today at (502) 210-8942 or reach out online.

Types of Abuse Common in Nursing Homes

Inadequate staff, poor hiring practices, and improperly trained caregivers all contribute to the alarming numbers of nursing home abuse cases. Female residents are especially at risk of abuse, making up 64 percent of known abuse cases. Those of low socioeconomic status and residents with poor physical or mental health conditions are also common targets of mistreatment in nursing homes. Abuse commonly recognized in nursing homes includes the following types of maltreatment against the elderly and infirm:

Emotional Abuse:

Emotional abuse is the most common type of abuse in nursing homes. Using verbal or nonverbal acts to inflict fear, intimidation, sorrow, shame, or humiliation on another is emotional abuse. Examples of emotional abuse in nursing homes include verbal threats, yelling or chastising a resident for making a mistake or forgetting something, threatening physical harm or isolation from others, and withholding food, basic hygiene, medication, and entertainment as punishments for perceived wrongdoing are all forms of emotional abuse against the elderly.


As with children, neglecting an elder’s basic needs is an egregious form of abuse that results in injuries and even death. Examples of nursing home neglect include failing to ensure residents receive adequate hydration and nutrition, neglecting basic hygiene, failing to provide adequate medical care, stealing medications, allowing safety risks, failing to prevent falls or other safety hazards, and failing to protect residents against verbal or physical attacks from other residents.

Abandonment or leaving a resident uncared for and alone for long periods is an egregious form of nursing home neglect.

Physical Abuse:

Physical abuse is the intentional infliction of pain and harm. Physical abuse against nursing home residents takes many forms, including hitting, shoving, pinching, kicking, unnecessarily restraining, over-medicating, and committing sexual abuse.

Financial Abuse:

Taking advantage of an elderly nursing home resident is financial abuse. Common examples of this type of abuse in nursing homes include stealing a resident’s valuables, money, medication, or belongings. Financial fraud against residents is also financial abuse. Examples include making withdrawals from a resident’s spending account at the facility, accessing a resident’s bank account, coercing or convincing a resident to give or lend money, or getting them to sign documents turning over assets and properties to a staff member.

Recognizing Signs of Abuse in Nursing Home Residents

It’s important to recognize signs of abuse in nursing home residents who may be unable, ashamed, or afraid to tell their loved ones. Signs of nursing home abuse include:

  • Bruises, cuts, and broken bones
  • Frequent falls
  • Broken personal items such as glasses and dentures
  • Poor hygiene
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Untreated or infected bedsores
  • Depression and withdrawal from family and friends
  • Fear of speaking in front of staff members
  • Dirty bed linens and unclean room
  • Bleeding from private parts
  • Loss of money, assets, and valuables

If a loved one in a nursing home exhibits any of the above signs of abuse, it’s critical to inform the facility manager and the local police. You can also reach out to your local ombudsmen and your state’s elder abuse agency.

Nursing homes are liable for damages such as medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and wrongful death benefits to family members in abuse cases. A nursing home abuse attorney in your area can provide legal counsel for your claim.