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Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Types of nursing home abuse, image of sad elderly man in wheel chairYou have consistently visited your mom every other day in the nursing home. But one day you notice that she’s not her same cheery self. She seems withdrawn and on edge and you notice that her caregiver will not leave the two of you alone for very long. That feeling that you get that something may be wrong — listen to it. Elder abuse in nursing homes is a major issue that many Chicago families face.

Elderly residents are not the only victims of the several types of nursing home abuse. Adult residents with disabilities can also be a target of nursing home abuse. In this article, we’ll discuss the 7 most common types of nursing home abuse you should look out for. You can learn more here about the specific warning signs of nursing home abuse.

In This Article:

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse in long-term care facilities like nursing homes is illegal yet nearly 1 in 3 nursing homes have been cited for serious violations. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 95% of nursing home residents have reported neglect and 44% of residents have reported abuse. These numbers are completely unacceptable.

Elderly people and adults with disabilities who need the type of care nursing homes are expected to provide should not live day in and day out in fear of abuse. Yet around 1 in 6 nursing home staff admitted to physically abusing residents by pushing, shoving, or grabbing them. Families should feel confident that their loved ones are receiving the very best care. Unfortunately, many continue to face varying types of nursing home abuse.

The most common type of abuse is physical abuse followed by resident-on-resident abuse and emotional or psychological abuse. It must stop. Later, we’ll discuss several ways to respond when you discover nursing home abuse. But as a legal issue, it’s important to consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in Illinois laws on abuse and neglect of elderly and adults with disabilities living in long-term care facilities.

Physical Abuse

Elder physical abuse is a grave violation that involves the deliberate use of force, resulting in severe harm or even death. The consequences of physical abuse are distressingly tangible, often leaving victims with fractured bones, painful bruises, severe burns, dislocated joints, sprains, or even the loss of teeth. Such acts not only inflict physical pain but also leave deep emotional scars, underscoring the urgent need for vigilance, prevention, and intervention measures to protect vulnerable elders from this abhorrent form of mistreatment.

Examples of physical abuse include: 

  • hitting
  • punching
  • shoving
  • kicking
  • pinching
  • burning
  • force-feeding
  • inappropriate administration of drugs

Psychological/Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse in nursing homes is a deeply concerning issue that can have devastating effects on the well-being of residents. This form of abuse, characterized by threats, insults, and controlling behaviors, is alarmingly common, with over 32% of nursing home staff members admitting to emotionally abusing residents.

Loved ones should be vigilant for signs such as fear of caregivers, isolation from friends and family, and manifestations of depression or anxiety in their elderly relatives. Emotional abuse can lead to long-term mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD, highlighting the urgent need for better prevention and intervention measures in nursing homes.

Examples of emotional elder abuse include:

  • Making threats
  • Yelling or spewing insults at a resident
  • Controlling a resident’s activities without their consent
  • Isolating residents from their friends, family, and other residents.
  • Name-calling

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in a nursing home is when a staff member violates through any unwanted sexual act or behavior. Sexual abuse can come in the form of any unwanted groping, touching, sexual assault, sexual battery, forced nudity, or rape.

Nursing home residents are often at higher risk of sexual abuse if they are unable to give consent or understand the situation. Signs that your loved one is undergoing this type of abuse can be bruising or lacerations around their genitals as well as sexually transmitted diseases.

Material/Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation in nursing homes is a distressing form of abuse that involves the improper acquisition or misuse of an elderly resident’s assets, often perpetrated by caregivers or even strangers. Signs of financial exploitation may include sudden unpaid bills, unauthorized charges on their accounts, substantial checks written to caregivers, or alterations to their power of attorney.

Examples of material or financial exploitation include:

  • using power of attorney to change a resident’s will
  • taking financial records and bank statements
  • restricting access to the resident’s own bank account
  • stealing cash, credit cards, or valuables

While it may not inflict physical harm, financial exploitation is profoundly damaging, causing anxiety and robbing residents of the resources essential for their long-term care.


Elder neglect, a grave issue in nursing homes, occurs when caregivers fail to provide the necessary care and attention to elderly residents. Common indicators of neglect include weight loss, poor hygiene, malnutrition, bedsores, and inadequate medical treatment. Neglect is not an accidental oversight but stems from carelessness, indifference, or a disregard for the elder’s well-being.

This means that elders may be denied essential provisions like food, water, personal hygiene, medication, or the comfort they rightfully deserve. Neglect can result from caregivers leaving residents alone for extended periods, allowing them to remain uncleaned in their own waste, forgetting to administer medications, ignoring complaints or needs, or failing to report injuries to medical staff.


Self-neglect is when a nursing home resident begins to neglect their own care leading to severe health issues. While this type of nursing home abuse is self-imposed, nursing home staff have a responsibility to identify cases of self-neglect, evaluate the underlying causes, and provide appropriate care and support to ensure the resident’s safety and well-being.

Examples of self-neglect include:

  • neglecting personal hygiene
  • refusing nourishment or medications
  • living in unsanitary conditions
  • not seeking necessary medical attention.

How to Get Help For Types of Nursing Home Abuse

According to Illinois law, abusing an elder or adult with disabilities in a long-term care facility like a nursing home is a class 4 felony. This is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, you should reach out to our trusted Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer as quickly as possible. At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we want to get your loved one safe as soon as possible and help your family 

When you need to get your loved one to safety and fight the institution that is not giving them the care they need, call our office. We will be here to help you and your loved one through this situation. For a FREE consultation, contact our office today. Call (312) 600-6000.

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The Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers is one of the most successful law firms serving the greater Chicago and Tampa areas. As the leader in Injury, Disability, Workers’ Comp, and Employment Law, with more than $1 Billion in recoveries, The Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers has been named One of the Most Influential Law Firms in America by Trial Lawyer Magazine.

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