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What Constitutes Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Residents in assisted living facilities have legally protected rights. They deserve to be taken care of and accounted for. Moreover, they deserve to receive the highest quality of care possible. Unfortunately, many older people in assisted living homes suffer from neglect, physical assault, and other forms of abuse. Assisted living centers should be a place where the patient is comfortable but that may not be the case in some instances. Behaviors that can constitute nursing home abuse include:

Physical abuse

It occurs when a resident in an assisted living facility is injured or suffers bodily harm. Signs that show an elder is being physically mistreated include unexplained injuries, scars, bruises, broken bones, signs of restraint, overdoses or missed medication and sudden change in behavior. These are not normal and don’t reflect the care that is needed in an assisted living facility. This abuse is inappropriate and should be noticed immediately.

Emotional abuse

It entails the deliberate psychological torture, isolation, manipulation, or cruelty of an elder who needs care. Some major signs that show an elder is being emotionally mistreated in their facility include avoiding their caretaker, sudden onset of depression, fear, or paranoia, and comforting themselves by sucking their thumbs or rocking. Emotional abuse is a serious issue and should be noted when you notice these behaviors.  

Sexual assault

This type of abuse is when a caregiver subjects an elder to harassment of a sexual nature or forces the elder to participate in a sexual act. Signs that indicate an elder may have been sexually assaulted by a caretaker or other affiliated parties include damaged clothing, showing fear or paranoia, unexplained anal or vaginal bleeding and showing signs of restraint. A complete lack of care on the assisted living’s end and needs to be stopped immediately. Take note of any changes to the participate and reach out to any help necessary.


Neglect involves ignoring an elder’s needs, when he or she is solely relying on another party for care. The needs can be physical, medical, or emotional. Unfortunately, neglect happens in many assisted living facilities and can cause wrongful death if it is not discovered early. Signs of neglect in assisted living facilities include dehydration, sudden weight loss, poor body hygiene, bedsores or soiled bedding, soiled clothing, and unsanitary living conditions.

Financial mistreatment

This is when someone takes advantage of an elder’s poor physical or mental state to change their wills, steal their money or obtain possession of their property without the elder’s understanding or consent. Signs that an assisted living facility’s staff has committed financial mistreatment include unusual withdrawal patterns in the elder’s bank accounts and an abrupt change in their will, property titles or power of attorney. In addition, you may notice items are missing when you visit your loved one and there may be unexplained transfers of money and assets.

Healthcare fraud

Elders may also be subjected to healthcare fraud if they fully rely on a caretaker or another party to manage their healthcare expenses and claims. For instance, a nursing home staff can fraudulently fill Medicaid or Medicare claims on behalf of the elder or double bill them for medical services. Signs of healthcare fraud may include falsifying claims to Medicare or Medicaid, duplicate billing, a huge difference between inadequate care and fully paid bills and overmedication or undermedication.


If you suspect that a loved one may have been mistreated or neglected at their assisted living home, you should talk to your caretaker’s superiors and look at reports on their behavior. If this will put the elder in danger, you can contact the police or the state health authority. You should also reach out to a lawyer to explore your legal options. The patient deserves compensation for their physical and emotional abuse. The assisted living center should be a place where someone feels safe and not be the cause of pain.



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