Elder Abuse in Nursing Facilities

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Bullying doesn’t always happen in younger adulthood, but elder abuse is a more common thing in nursing facilities. They’re several types of elder abuse including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. Neglect is a big part of elder abuse in certain situations. Older adults may not know the different types of abuse or neglect that is happening in nursing facilities.

Noticing the first steps to elder abuse could save a person’s life. In a nursing home facility results of elder abuse include understaffing, immobility or illness in the elder, and stress of the caregiver. All these factors play a huge part in how the nursing facility runs, and how treat their elder patients regardless of the situation.

Institutional Setting

Every facility is different when it comes to elder abuse. When an elderly adult is being abused these individuals are left scared and unaware of what to do next. These individuals have the chance to report the incident or just move on from it. Millions of cases go unreported every year due to elderly patients not being able to voice what is happening in these nursing facilities.

Most of the time family members are unaware of what goes on in these types of facilities. In each facility they’re laws set into place so that elderly individuals understand they have rights to being taken care of fairly and equally. Whether every institution follows the rules is up to the facility/individual taking care of the elderly patient. These rules are in place to help and protect the individual of any kinds of mistreatment (Traxler, 2018).

Signs of Abuse

Some common signs of elder abuse in a nursing facility is medication errors, bedsores, and wrongful death. Sometimes these signs aren’t always noticeable. Often caregivers aren’t getting notified that something has happened to the elderly patient. Other signs to look for that could be more noticeable than others include broken bones, bruises, withdrawing from communication, and could also become fearful of certain staff. In some cases, these nursing facilities may be indicated as having a poor environment for the elderly individual.

Often, elderly adults living in these facilities tend to not talk about what goes on. This could help or hurt the individual staying in the nursing care facility. Just like college students moving in their dorms for the first time, their roommates could verbally and even emotionally abuse them, which cases them to not want to live in that place or for the student to not feel like they can talk to anyone else (Traxler, 2018).

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is not as common as physical abuse. This kind of abuse can be verbal, but it is not limited too. This could be a matter, of he said, she said kind of thing. An elderly person can become emotionally abused by a nursing facility by being patronized by the staff, and even the staff ignoring the elderly patient. This can cause the elderly individual to feel isolated and cause them to not want to do anything.

That can lead to self-harm and tons of emotional distress. Just like in fifth grade when bullies picked on an individual for several months and even years. This can be the same thing for elderly individuals in a nursing facility. The staff can torture a patient to the point where they feel an emotional distress for however long they may be staying in this type of facility (Robinson, 2013).

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse in elder adults in a nursing facility can involve assault, battery, hitting, punching, shoving, or even using restraints to keep the individual from moving. In a recent article posted by News Channel 8 in Florida. At a nursing facility, two employees were charged with using duct tape to restrain an elderly woman with dementia. They claim it was meant to keep her quiet.

The women who ducted taped the elderly patient proceeded to uncover the victims mouth to give her a sleeping pill, the other women who stood by and watched never reported this situation (Associated Press, 2018). This is a good situation in the major aspects of physical abuse. It shows how elderly patients with a disease can be treated, and where some situations will go unnoticed/overlooked.

This can be for extreme cases. In some cases, nursing facilities have the right to restraint an individual but only if the patient is not acting properly. There is no right or wrong to this physical type of abuse. This kind of abuse can have major impacts on older adults. Elderly patients may think this is physical abuse but, in some cases, it is to control the individual. Those who see frequent physical abuse is in older women aged 80 and older (Traxler, 2018).

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is an action against an elderly patient that is unwanted in a sexual origin. Typical behavior that sexual abuse in a nursing home has occurred is having problems walking or sitting, developing sexually transmitted diseases, bleeding from private areas, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is little research even available on sexual abuse.

These studies are hard to pursue due to whether people are playing the “he said, she said” card. Some researchers have indicated that elderly victims of sexual abuse are less likely to have someone believe them. This means that sexual abuse acts are happening while nothing is being done to prevent these situations from starting again.

Some of the statistics for sexual abuse against the elderly, women are 6 times more likely to be victims, only about 30 percent of elderly victims of sexual abuse over the age of 65 years report the abuse to anyone, about 83 percent of victims of elder abuse reside in an institutional care center, and about 76 percent of elder sexual abuse victims have had their incident witnessed by another. Surprisingly those elderly individuals who are being sexually abused by a caregiver have a witness around. Which makes it difficult for the elderly patient to speak up about the situation (Traxler, 2018).

Financial Abuse

This kind of abuse is not a common one. “Financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individuals resources by a caregiver or other person in a trusting relationship, for the benefit of someone other than the older individual” (CDC, 2018). Common financial abuse in nursing homes would be, stealing money from wallets, and using other residents credit cards.

However, it is not just family who may steal it could be friends, nursing home employees/residents, lawyers, and bankers. These are people who an elderly adult may trust with their own financial situation. It may be hard to detected who is stealing from an elderly adults account if they do not keep close eye on their own accounts. Elderly individuals who live in nursing facilities may have someone who takes care of these financial situations.

Other times, the nursing facility can take advantage of those individuals who may not know what to do with their money. That can be financial abuse against an elderly patient. This doesn’t always have to occur in the facility and nor does it have to occur when the patient knows about it (Traxler, 2018).


Neglect means refusing or failing to provide the elder patient with the necessitates of life. This could include not giving the patient water, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and personal safety. Failing to do these things for an elderly individual can cause serious consequences and even wrongful death. Identifying warning signs of neglect can be misleading to some adults who are unaware of this issue. In certain situations, different kinds of neglect whether it is physical, or verbal can cause the elderly patient to become more aware of the environment they live in.

In situations of neglect in nursing homes, families who may not be aware of what goes on during the days and nights in these facilities may not notice changes in an elderly adult. Changes in an elderly adult can have a huge impact on the patient. They may become a more complex patient to deal with. Which can cause the nursing facility to act upon their behavior with restraints (Robinson, 2013).


Prevention of neglect and abuse in a nursing home is critical for elderly patients and whether they want to stay. One way to help prevent these situations from happening could be making sure staff are being trained to do the right thing. Having a good staff who appreciate the elderly population is a good start in having healthy and happy patients. Another way to prevent this from happening is being effective in communication.

This is not only good for the patient but as well for the caregivers and family members. The nursing facility staff should look for signs of emotional distress and health issues. Being able to communication with other members of the family could help assess with the elderly patient. These ways to help prevent elder abuse in nursing facilities may not always be useful but it could help stop staff members from acting in such a bad behavior towards these individuals (NCEA, 2017).


Elder abuse is a common thing in any type of facility. Most common in nursing facilities and hospitals. Early warning signs can help the elderly patient cope with the issues and or stop the abuse from happening. They’re several different kinds of abuse. Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse. This abuse can be harmful to the patient and can even cause visible and non-visible evidence as to what might have happened.

Elderly adults tend to not express this abuse very much. The abuser from the facility may keep doing it if they aren’t caught. Emotional abuse can cause an elderly individual to become distressed and very depressed. This abuse is not good for older adults who may already be in some distress from other individual issues. Elderly adults can become helpless and not be able to reach out for help.

Sexual abuse is having unwanted sexual actions with an elderly patient. This can lead to diseases and even depression within an elderly patient. Financial abuse can cause an elderly patient to lose money if they know it or not. It may not just be from a family member stealing it but also friends and the nursing facility. Neglect can be another form of abuse. In nursing facilities, the staff could neglect a patient from eating, and or being able to get up from their own bed. Neglect of an elderly individual can lead to death.

An older adult who is being neglected in a nursing facility might be at risk for not being able to seek help. Prevention is a great way to seek out help. In most cases elderly patients won’t act on the situation but getting help and having ways to help prevent this from ever happening could be a good start. Being able to communication and work with the staff can help prevent any kind of misunderstanding and even preventing abuse from happening in a nursing facility (CDC, 2018).


  1. Associated Press. (2018, July 14). Police: Florida nursing home workers duct-taped patient to chair. Retrieved from https://www.wfla.com/news/florida/police-florida-nursing-home-workers-duct-taped-patient-to-chair/1302850736
  2. CDC. (2018, May 17). Elder Abuse and Neglect: Spotting the Warning Signs and Getting Help. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/elder-abuse-and-neglect.htm
  3. CDC. (2018, May 17). Violence Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/definitions.html
  4. NCEA. (2017, July). Resources. Retrieved from http://www.healthinaging.org/resources/resource:preventing-elder-abuse-and-neglect-in-older-adults/
  5. Robinson, Lawrence, Tina De Benedictius, and Jeanne Segal. “Elder Abuse and Neglect.” Help Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm
  6. Traxler, C. (2018, January 24). Types of Elder Abuse – Learn About the Different Types of Elderly Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.com/elder-abuse/types/

Cite this paper

Elder Abuse in Nursing Facilities. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/elder-abuse-in-nursing-facilities/



What are the 3 most common complaints about nursing homes?
The three most common complaints about nursing homes are poor quality of care, lack of staff, and inadequate living conditions. These issues often lead to neglect, abuse, and a decline in physical and mental health among residents.
What are the characteristics of elder abuse?
There are many characteristics of elder abuse, but some of the most common include physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and neglect.
What is the most common abuse in nursing homes?
The most common abuse in nursing homes is physical abuse. This can include hitting, slapping, elbowing, and kicking.
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