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Many elderly adults are vulnerable to abuse in their own homes, in relatives’ homes, and even in facilities where trained staff are responsible for their care. Abuse can be obvious, like with physical abuse and injury, or not as obvious, such as neglect. When caregivers are overworked and  stressed, patience and tolerance are affected, leading to patient injury or abuse.

Physical Abuse

The most common type of abuse endured by nursing home patients includes physical beatings, sexual assault, and forced ingestion of food or medication. Physical abuse can also result from neglect, which occurs when nursing home staff fails to feed or clothe a patient, assist with personal hygiene, or protect patients from health and safety hazards.

Mental Abuse

Nursing homes mentally abuse their elderly patients when they verbally or emotionally mistreat, humiliate, insult, or threaten them. Mental abuse also includes situations when nursing homes deny patients their right of personal choice, such as when they want to get out of bed or eat. Mental abuse can also take the form of verbal intimidation or forced isolation.

Financial Abuse

Nursing home staff may also financially abuse patients when they take advantage of them by stealing or coercing patients to give them money or provide for them in their will. Some of the signs of nursing home financial abuse may include:

  • Frequent withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Loss of personal property
  • New loans or mortgage contracts
  • Recent visions to wills, deeds, or trusts

What Causes Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse results primarily from understaffed nursing homes, stressful working conditions, and inadequate staff training. Understaffing results in overworked employees who tend to burn out and lose empathy and patience with nursing home patients, leading to errors that can result in serious medical complications.

Research has found that the chance of nursing home abuse increases significantly in a facility with a high percentage of patients with dementia and corresponding low staff ratios, particularly when employees are being asked to work double shifts. Training can prepare staff to respond appropriately to difficult situations, such as dealing with physically combative residents, which have the potential to trigger abuse. Residents who rarely receive visitors may be more vulnerable to abuse, since there is no one from outside the facility to regularly check on their care.

3 Comments

  1. Gravatar for Barbara Bostic

    My sister has been at Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke, Virginia for almost two years. We have witnessed so much abuse. Mental, emotional, nutritional. You name it. Some caregivers try, most don't. Low pay by management accounts for poor workers. So heartbreaking.

  2. Gravatar for Jeanette Ralston
    Jeanette Ralston

    My mother had a freek accident, to where the wind came up an she fell on concret, we took her through the emergency room where we found out that she had broken her leg below the ball in her hip, they did surgery and had it pinned. But before that happened the dr said she needed aroundthe clock care an an rehabilitation, and was NOT susposed to be permanent situation. But becauseof neglect of the staff she fell 2 in one week, the first time they just picked her up and put back in bed, so they could monitor her vitals, 2 time she fell again and this time they took it into their own hands and picked her up, placed her in her wheel chair, and took her t the emergency room in the rest homes transportation bus, after words they called me and said she was in the ER. When I got there she was in x-ray, when the dr came out to talk to us he said she had refractured it where it was 1st pinned and from the 2nd fall it was fractured below wnere it was originally. Therefore she needed an emergency partial hip replacement. I and her grandkids decided not to put her back in that rest home, so

  3. Gravatar for Jeanette Ralston
    Jeanette Ralston

    Now the rest home took my mother to court to get her incompacited, stripped me of power of attorney, and gave it to an attorney for guardian ship/consivitor, he don't check up to see how she is all he wants is her money, property I as a only child was to get. He tells me their is no money in the bank, so when he gets the property sold he wants a percentage of it, he isbeing paid by the state, and it states in the paperwork he is not to take any money out for himself

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