Nursing home abuse takes many forms. All forms of elder abuse are harmful to residents. Sadly, most cases of nursing home abuse go unreported.

Understanding the types of nursing home abuse can help family members and friends recognize when a resident is being abused. Let’s go over the common types of nursing home abuse and the signs to look for when you visit family members and friends.

Eight Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is probably one of the most common types of nursing home abuse. A person intentionally causes pain or injury to a resident. Common signs of physical abuse include bruises, broken bones, burns, cuts, and sprains.

Verbal Abuse and Emotional Abuse

Verbal abuse is also widespread in nursing homes. It often is accompanied by emotional abuse. Staff members yell at residents, which demeans, frightens, and embarrasses them.

The abuser may threaten to physically abuse the patient and subject them to verbal assaults, intimidation, and harassment. Signs of verbal and emotional abuse can include depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and low self-worth.

Financial Abuse

Misusing a resident’s property or money or stealing from a resident are examples of financial abuse. A person may use the resident’s name and personal injury to open credit card accounts or lines of credit.

Financial abuse also includes forcing or tricking a resident into signing powers of attorneys, deeds, and other financial documents for the benefit of the abuser. Missing property and money and changes to estate documents are the common signs of financial abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse of nursing home patients includes fondling, touching, intercourse, or any other sexual conduct with a resident. Some residents are physically forced or unable to consent.

Signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home include infections, sexually transmitted diseases, tearing and bleeding from the genitals, and bruises. Bruises may appear around the breasts, buttocks, and genitals. Bruises may also be on the wrists and ankles where the person was bound.

Confinement and Willful Deprivation

Confinement occurs when the resident is restrained for reasons other than medical reasons. You may notice bruising and sores around the ankles and wrists.

Deprivation is withholding items or care that the resident needs. A nursing home staff member may deny the resident physical assistance, medical care, food, water, or a therapeutic device. Depriving the patient of needs increases the risk of harm or injury for the patient.

Neglect

Neglect may be willful or unintentional. The nursing home fails to provide adequate care and comfort for the resident. Neglect can involve depriving the resident of needs.

However, neglect also involves failing to care for the patient. Signs of neglect include dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, dirty clothing, poor hygiene, bedsores, infections, and worsening health conditions.

The Kentucky Attorney General and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provide additional information on their websites about the different types of nursing home abuse and the signs of elder abuse.

What Can You Do If You Suspect Your Family Member Is Being Abused in a Nursing Home?

If your family member is in danger, call 911 to report the abuse. The police will respond and investigate the matter or refer it to the appropriate agency. Elder abuse is a crime. The people responsible for the abuse can be arrested and punished for abusing an elderly person.

You may also want to speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer. Your family member may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages. Filing a lawsuit against the nursing home may help provide the funds you need to relocate your loved one to a better facility.

You can also report the nursing home to the state. The state investigates all complaints against nursing homes. Reporting the nursing home to the state could help prevent or stop other residents’ abuse in the nursing home.

Whether you call a nursing home abuse lawyer, adult protective services, the police, or a government agency, the key is to act immediately. Every moment you wait to report what you suspect is another chance for the abuser to harm your loved one or another nursing home resident.

Do not worry about whether you could be wrong about the suspected nursing home abuse. It is better to err on the side of caution than do nothing.