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4 types of abuse elderly patients may suffer in a nursing home

There are thousands of nursing home facilities in the United States. While many of them provide competent, compassionate care to elderly patients, they don't all do this. For a variety of reasons, from staffing problems to negligent management, some nursing home facilities provide an environment that increases the potential for elder abuse.

If your spouse, parent, or another loved one is in a nursing home, you should be aware that there are four types of abuse that can happen in this setting.

  1. Financial abuse - Theft can be common in nursing homes with poor oversight and security. Visitors, staff and other residents may steal medication, cash and personal property. Another example is when nursing homes facilitate abuse by a conservator or other authoritative party by isolating the resident from loved ones.
  2. Physical abuse - There are numerous ways people may physically abuse an older adult. Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, restraining, grabbing and pushing patients. Often, victims are scared, confused, or weak and cannot fight back or protect themselves.
  3. Emotional abuse - Because patients are so dependent on their care providers in a nursing home setting, they can be targets for emotional abuse. An abusive party might isolate a victim or leave him or her alone. The abuser might humiliate, threaten or belittle a resident. 
  4. Sexual abuse - Any unwanted sexual act can be sexual abuse. In a nursing home setting, this might include having sexual contact with an incapacitated patient, pressuring residents to engage in sexual acts, or forcing a person to perform sexual acts in exchange for medication or money. 

As upsetting as it may be to think about the potential for a loved one to experience abuse in a nursing home, ignoring this possibility will not make it go away.

As such, it is crucial for family members and loved ones to be aware of the types of neglect and mistreatment vulnerable patients in a nursing home may suffer. Recognizing what could happen allows loved ones to be more alert in terms of identifying and stopping abuse.

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