Types of Nursing Home Abuse

There are several types of nursing home abuse and several potential perpetrators; however, they are most often those the seniors trust the most. This includes their children, spouses, and other family members. Other caregivers — such as nursing home employees — may also abuse residents.

If you believe your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, you may be able to hold the abuser liable. Call Cordisco & Saile LLC for help: 215-642-2335.

How common is nursing home abuse?

The National Council on Aging reports that about one in ten seniors experience some type of abuse. While as many as 5 million seniors suffer from elder abuse each year, only about one out of every 14 cases comes to the attention of nursing home administration, the police, or other authorities.

If you have aging loved ones who live in a nursing home, it pays to stay alert and understand the warning signs of abuse. Your family members may not be getting the medical care and compassionate attention they need during this vulnerable time. Nursing home abuse occurs in several ways, including:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when a caregiver or other person inflicts physical harm, injuring a senior. This may include — but is not limited to — hitting, kicking, striking, or unnecessarily restraining an elderly nursing home resident.

Another form of physical abuse occurs when a caregiver purposefully gives the senior the wrong medications to induce sleepiness, cause other changes in awareness, or reduce abilities. 

Some of the most common warning signs of physical abuse include:

  • Unexplained bruises or cuts
  • Unexplained serious injuries, including broken bones
  • Bruising around the wrists or legs suggesting restraint use
  • Symptoms of medication overdoses
  • A caregiver who does not want to leave you alone with your loved one
  • Fear when in the company of a certain caregiver

Sexual Abuse

It is hard to think about your elderly loved one suffering through sexual abuse, but it happens to far too many nursing home residents. Sexual abuse can take a wide range of forms from lewd language to forcing a resident to participate in sex acts. The acts considered sexual abuse may fall under the categories of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or even rape.

Warning signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home resident may include:

  • Bruises or other signs of injury around the genitals or breasts
  • Newly diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases
  • Staining on clothing or sheets
  • Blood in underwear
  • Unexpected vaginal bleeding

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is often more difficult to identify than physical or sexual abuse. Defined as any words or actions used to cause anxiety, fear or other negative emotions, emotional abuse can be just as dangerous as physical abuse.

Signs that your loved one may be experiencing emotional abuse include:

  • A caregiver who does not want to leave you alone with your loved one
  • A significant, unexplained change in a senior’s personality
  • Overhearing threats or other inappropriate language from a caregiver


Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide the level of care a nursing home resident requires. This can include withholding food, clothing, or medical care, or even denying the medications or support necessary for optimum health and wellbeing.

In some cases, neglect may occur due to lack of training or other unintentional reasons. However, it can lead to serious physical, mental, and emotional harm and needs addressing immediately.

The warning signs of neglect may include:

  • Dirty, unchanged clothing
  • Soiled diapers, underwear, or bed clothes
  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Missing hearing aids or glasses
  • Signs of missed medication doses
  • A senior who reports missing meals or medications

Financial Abuse

Many nursing home residents rely on caregivers to manage their finances, leaving them open to fraud and exploitation. Common ways financial abuse occurs in the elderly include theft of credit cards, unapproved use of checks or debit cards, scams, and charging for unnecessary services or treatments.

Warning signs of financial abuse in seniors often includes:

  • Unapproved debits or charges on bank or credit card statements
  • Unexpected changes to wills or other legal documents
  • Valuables disappearing
  • Unpaid bills when there is sufficient money to cover them

How can I get help if I believe I see signs of nursing home abuse?

If you believe a nursing home resident is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call 911.

When the danger does not appear to be life-threatening, you can file a report in Pennsylvania by calling 1-800-490-8505. In New Jersey, you will need to contact your local Adult Protective Service providers to report your suspicions.

Once you are confident that your loved one is safe and protected from any further abuse, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help you begin to explore your legal options in helping your senior get the compensation they need for full recovery. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to get started establishing liability and building your case.