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Types of nursing home abuse and how to recognize them

Elder abuse is sadly common. Approximately 10% of Americans 60 and older are victims of some type of abuse, share the National Council on Aging. Abuse and neglect often take place in nursing homes. Nursing home residents are at risk of abuse because of isolation, disabilities and mental impairment.

A nursing home should be a safe place for your parent to spend the end of his or her life. If you have concerns about your parent being in an abusive nursing home, you should know the types and signs of abuse.

Forms of abuse

Nursing home residents can face various kinds of abuse:

  • Physical abuse: Causing injury or pain
  • Psychological abuse: Verbal assaults, harassment, threats of abuse or intimidation
  • Neglect: Failure to provide necessities such as food and medical care

It can be difficult to know for sure when these horrible things are taking place. Here are the common red flags of each of these forms of elder abuse.

Physical abuse

 You may notice sudden and unexplained broken bones, scars, bruises or welts. Rope marks on the wrist may also indicate restraint. Broken eyeglasses are another red flag.

Psychological abuse

 Your parent may withdraw from relationships and activities. The nursing home staff may isolate him or her from visiting family members or friends. A staff member who is demeaning or verbally aggressive may be abusive. You may simply notice a sudden change in behavior in your parent.


 Sometimes improper treatment is passive. Is there a lack of necessities such as food, water or heat?  Does your loved one have poor personal hygiene or a dirty living space? Do you notice soiled bedding or clothing, or bedsores? Any of these things may be signs of neglect.

Protect your parent

 If you suspect your mom or dad is experiencing abuse, you may need to take action. Talking to your parent, documenting evidence and filing a complaint can help safeguard your parent from abuse.

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Carlton F. Bennett Mr. Bennett is recognized as an expert in traumatic brain damage litigation, nursing home malpractice, and wrongful death cases. He has obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for traumatic brain injury survivors, and other cases involving serious injuries.
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