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Cases Of Nursing Home Abuse On The Rise

One of the most heinous crimes in modern society is the abuse of elderly residents living in nursing homes. This should be the one time in their life where they are free from danger or worry and allowed to enjoy their golden years in peace. Sadly, the number of cases coming to court every year indicates this problem is not going away but what causes nursing home abuse? Why does it happen so frequently? And what can we do to protect our loved ones?

Type of Abuse

Financial, mental and physical are the big three when it comes to abuse in nursing homes. You can also add neglect and sexual abuse to that list.

Financial – also known as exploitation. The victim may be cajoled or bullied into handing over money or personal items. The most severe of these cases has seen wills being changed, without the family’s knowledge, to include caregivers.

Mental/Psychological– Often considered to be the cruelest of them all, as this type of abuse leaves no visible bruises or scars and is the hardest to prove. Verbal abuse, threats, withholding mail or messages, all fall under the umbrella of mental abuse.

Physical – hitting, biting, pulling hair; anything that involves physical contact and/or uses extreme physical force.

Neglect – Not checking on residents regularly, failure to check for, and subsequently treat, bedsores etc, leaving them lying in soiled beds, generally falling short of the standard of care the resident needs and is entitled to.

Sexual abuse– touching, fondling or even raping residents to relieve their sexual urges


When abusers are caught they come up with 101 reasons to try and justify their actions. These reasons, better known as feeble excuses, range from the ridiculous to the outrageous.

“She wouldn’t get out of bed”

“He was nasty to me”

“She answered me back when I gave her orders”

“He hit me first”

“She called me fat”

“He’s a dirty old man so I gave him a taste of his own medicine”

Make no mistake, caring for the elderly is a hugely stressful and often thankless task. Some of these people would try the patience of a saint but they are the oldest and most vulnerable members of society, and absolutely nothing they say or do is a viable reason for abusing them.

Who’s Really at Fault?

There are dozens of reasons why abuse in nursing homes happens, and the individual nursing homes themselves could be held responsible for at least part of the blame. The caliber of staff employed as caregivers, along with the management of the facility, plays a major role. Persons with a history of violence and little or no experience can blag their way into a caregiving role if the home is all about making as much money as it can from the residents without paying the wages for decent staff. Many nursing homes lack both resources and specialist management teams. These are very difficult to operate, they will employ anyone willing to work for their paltry pay scale and inevitably the quality of care will be poor at best.

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