Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse takes many different forms. Seniors in nursing homes can be physically, emotionally, financially, or sexually abused in a place that is supposed to take care of them. They can also be neglected or abandoned by caretakers for days, weeks, or months. Below, learn about the different types of nursing home abuse and how to take action against them.

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The 7 Nursing Home Abuse Types

An elderly woman in a nursing home sits on a chair

Nursing home residents have legally protected rights and deserve to get the best care possible. Sadly, far too many older people in nursing homes suffer due to physical assault, neglect, and other forms of abuse.

The top seven types of nursing home abuse are:

  1. Abandonment
  2. Emotional abuse
  3. Financial exploitation
  4. Neglect of a resident’s basic needs
  5. Physical abuse
  6. Self-neglect
  7. Sexual assault

All nursing home abuse types can seriously harm older adults. Residents, family, and friends need to know about the different types and the warning signs of abuse. Taking early action against all types of nursing home abuse can prevent long-term harm.

Get a free case review if you or a loved one has suffered from abuse or mistreatment in a nursing home. You may be entitled to financial compensation to cover medical bills and other expenses for the harm done.

Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

There are five common types of nursing home abuse, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA): physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

Additional types of nursing home abuse include self-neglect and abandonment.

Learn about common types of nursing home abuse below.

Physical Abuse

Physical nursing home abuse occurs when a resident suffers bodily harm or injuries. Over 9% of nursing home staff members admitted to physically abusing residents in a 2020 study from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Examples of physical abuse in a nursing home include:

  • Being punched or kicked
  • Being restrained with straps or ties
  • Getting pushed or shoved

Common signs of physical abuse among residents include broken bones, bruises, and bleeding. Physical abuse can be committed against any resident, but those with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease may be at higher risk.

Without proper medical attention, physical elder abuse can lead to serious injuries or even death. Thankfully, financial aid may be available to pay for medical bills and emotional suffering if you or a loved one suffered physical nursing home abuse.

For example, an older nursing home resident who was beaten and suffered from neglect received $175,000 by working with a skilled law firm.

Steps to Filing a Lawsuit

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse (also known as verbal or psychological abuse) occurs when someone insults a resident or uses threats to control them. It is the most common type of nursing home abuse.

According to the WHO, over 32% of nursing home staff members said they emotionally abused residents.

Examples of emotional abuse include:

  • Controlling a resident’s activities against their will
  • Insulting the resident’s appearance or intelligence
  • Isolating seniors from family, friends, and other residents
  • Making threats

Residents that suffer from emotional elder abuse can develop long-term mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs that a loved one has been emotionally abused include negative changes in their mood or behavior.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect occurs when staff members fail to provide proper medical care. As a result, the resident’s physical and emotional well-being suffers.

An old man in a wheelchair looks out a window

Neglect is different from nursing home abuse. Abuse is a deliberate act performed to harm someone, while nursing home neglect stems from carelessness or apathy on the part of nursing home staff.

Examples of nursing home neglect include:

Medication Errors

Nursing home residents may rely on staff to receive medications. Staff members may make mistakes when giving medications to residents. This can cause serious or even life-threatening complications.

Personal Hygiene

Nursing home staff members need to maintain each resident’s personal hygiene by changing their clothes and helping to wash them. If they fail to do so, a nursing home resident may wear dirty or soiled clothes for hours or days and develop health problems.

Dehydration and Malnutrition

Nursing home staff members may not give enough food or water to residents. Residents may suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, or severe weight loss as a result.

Other Issues

Other examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Failing to quickly report injuries/illnesses to doctors/family
  • Ignoring a resident’s complaints
  • Leaving residents unattended for periods of time

Neglecting a nursing home resident can have horrifying results. For example, a woman developed severe bedsores and was left to lie in her own feces due to neglect.

The woman also told loved ones she once wasn’t fed in two or three days and that the staff wasn’t giving her needed medications.

After filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit, the woman and her family received $407,000.

Was your loved one neglected or abused in a nursing home? Call (800) 896-7040 or chat with our team now to seek swift justice.

Sexual Abuse

This type of abuse occurs when a resident experiences any form of unwanted sexual contact, touching, or groping. Sexual elder abuse can lead to physical harm like bruises, scratches, or sexually transmitted diseases, as well as emotional trauma.

Sadly, sexual elder abuse is often committed against residents who are disabled or unable to give consent.

In a recent case, a female nursing home resident complained that a male staff member tried to sexually assault her before she screamed and he fled.

The resident also suffered neglect due to untreated bedsores and pneumonia. With legal help, the resident and her family secured $175,000.

Financial Abuse

Financial elder abuse occurs when someone steals from an older person or uses manipulation to get money from them.

Examples of financial abuse include:

  • Misusing power of attorney to change a resident’s will
  • Preventing the resident from accessing their own bank account
  • Stealing a resident’s cash, credit cards, or valuables
  • Stealing a resident’s financial records or bank statements

Financial abuse can be very stressful for residents, as they can lose income and savings needed to pay for their long-term care.


Self-neglect occurs when an older adult cannot take care of themselves, leading to severe health issues.

Self-neglect may occur if an elderly person lives alone in a house or apartment. However, if an elder is showing any signs of neglect while living in a nursing home, staff members may be responsible.

Elder Abandonment

Elder abandonment often occurs when a caregiver leaves an older person who needs help from another alone to fend for themselves. Nursing home residents can also be abandoned by assisted living facilities.

In 2020, the New York Times reported on a facility in California that kicked out a resident with dementia and dropped him off at a halfway house. The facility didn’t inform the victim’s family members and he was found wandering the streets alone.

Help is available if your loved one suffered from nursing home abuse. Call (800) 896-7040 to get started.

Who Commits Nursing Home Abuse?

Many people can commit different types of nursing home abuse. Common perpetrators include nursing home staff, administrators, other residents, and even family members.

Nursing Home Staff

Staff members may abuse residents out of frustration or anger. They may also neglect to care for a resident’s basic health needs if they haven’t been properly trained or if the facility is understaffed.

That being said, there is no excuse for staff to harm nursing home residents. Any staff member that has abused or neglected an older person deserves to be punished for their actions.

Nursing Home Administrators

Administrators of long-term care facilities make decisions that affect the standard of care residents receive.

Unfortunately, administrators may get greedy and put profits ahead of senior care by hiring poor-quality staff members, understaffing nursing homes, or failing to take measures to keep the facility safe.

Administrative staff can also commit emotional or verbal abuse against residents. This can occur by delaying responses to serious problems and concerns or withholding information from them.

Other Nursing Home Residents

Other residents can also commit nursing home abuse. If nursing home staff members fail to keep dangerous residents from harming others, they might bear some of the blame too.

Did You Know?
Staff members at a facility in Florida knew three of its residents were sexually abusive but took no action despite repeated incidents. The state banned the facility from adding new residents until it finally removed the abusers.

Get a free case review to pursue compensation if your loved one suffered from nursing home abuse.

Family Members

Family members who come to visit older relatives in nursing homes can also commit abuse.

The nursing home has a responsibility to protect residents from abuse — even when it’s carried out by a family member. Staff members must take note of interactions between family members and recognize possible signs of abuse.

Nursing home staff must also take all complaints seriously when it comes to their residents’ relationships with visiting family members.

Next Steps for Those Harmed by Nursing Home Abuse

All types of nursing home abuse are unacceptable. Thankfully, there are steps you can take if an older resident you love has been harmed in a nursing home.

You can:

  1. Call 911 if a nursing home resident is in immediate danger
  2. Report abuse cases to an elder ombudsman or Adult Protective Services (APS)
  3. Connect with a nursing home abuse law firm to pursue compensation

Our team of skilled advocates can recommend next steps after abuse or neglect. Get a free case review right now to start the process.

FAQs About Types of Nursing Home Abuse

What are the 7 types of nursing home abuse?

Types of nursing home abuse include:

  • Abandonment
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Self-neglect
  • Sexual abuse

No resident should suffer from any type of nursing home abuse as the staff is supposed to keep them safe.

What is the most common type of nursing home abuse?

Emotional abuse is the most common type of nursing home abuse.

A 2020 study from the WHO found that nearly one-third of nursing home staff members admitted to emotionally abusing residents. This rate was higher than all other types of nursing home abuse combined.

How can I get help for different nursing home abuse types?

You can get help for different types of nursing home abuse by contacting authorities.

Local police, elder protective services, and nursing home abuse attorneys all may be able to help. Always call 911 in the event of a medical emergency.

If you want to connect with an elder abuse lawyer who can pursue compensation for you, we can help. Get started with a free case review right now.

You deserve justice. Get a free legal case review now.

Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team

Nursing Home Abuse Justice was founded to shine a light on nursing home and elder abuse. Every day, thousands of people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are abused. Our team helps educate seniors and their loved ones on the common causes, signs and preventions of nursing home abuse. We report on real-world studies and current events from respected news outlets to expose this national problem.

Last modified: February 18, 2022

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