Nursing Home Abuse 

Nursing home abuse refers to any of the previously described forms of elder abuse in an institutional setting, such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult home, or other congregate housing settings for older adults.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

While elder abuse can occur in any institutional setting for older adults, such as assisted living, nursing homes are highly regulated with regard to elder abuse prevention, detection, and investigation.


Nursing homes are highly regulated by state and federal government, and have specific laws intended to prevent and address elder abuse.


Nursing homes who accept funds from Medicare or Medicaid must perform criminal background checks on their employees,


Nursing homes who accept funds from Medicare or Medicaid must thoroughly investigate allegations of potential elder abuse and report them to state agencies, typically the State Department of Health that regulates nursing homes.

Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Occur?

Residents of nursing homes have high rates of chronic medical problems and the inability to care for themselves, which makes them especially vulnerable to all forms or elder abuse.

Staff Shortfalls Make Elder Neglect a More Common Form of Elder Abuse
Elder neglect is a more common form of elder abuse in nursing homes, where residents need assistance with toileting, feeding, turning and repositioning, and many other aspects of daily living that younger people may take for granted. When staff do not perform these duties, either intentionally or because they are simply unable to attend to too many residents, neglect can occur.

Resident to Resident Mistreatment (RREM)
Physical and psychological elder abuse also occur in nursing homes, but recent evidence suggests that the more common abusers in this situation are not staff, but other residents. This type of abuse is also known as resident to resident elder mistreatment or RREM. RREM usually occurs not necessarily because residents are intentionally mean, but because common dementias like Alzheimer’s Disease can cause behavioral symptoms that include verbal, physical, and even sexual aggression. Also, residents of nursing homes may not have had to share rooms, common areas, or other resources for many years, further contributing to RREM.

We are Working to End Nursing Home Abuse

 From research and policy, to direct services, the team at is focused on one thing: ending elder abuse.

What Harm Can it Cause?

Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes can be especially harmful because people who live there are so frail and vulnerable to begin with.

Serious Injuries are More Likely
A push, kick, or punch that would have resulted in a minor injury in a younger person is more likely to lead to a serious injury such as a fracture or internal trauma.

High Care Needs Means that Neglect Can Be Devastating
Nursing home residents have high care needs, so elder neglect can lead to a variety of poor outcomes. These include problems like bedsores (which occur when patients are not properly turned and repositioned), or falls (which occur when ambulating patients are not properly supervised or restrained). Poor hygiene and infections result when nursing home residents are not toileted or changed in a timely fashion.

Abuse Can be Fatally Magnified
Of course, nursing home residents who experience any form of abuse can develop anxiety, depression, worsening of their medical problems, injuries, be hospitalized or even die from experiencing abuse in a facility.

Your Involvement Can Change Everything.


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What Can Be Done to Stop The Abuse of Elders in Nursing Homes?

Stopping nursing home abuse requires monitoring and reporting any suspected abuse to appropriate authorities.



Nursing homes are mandated to investigate and report elder abuse, and even the suspicion of elder abuse, to the state.


Nursing homes can face serious monetary penalties and even closures when abuse is substantiated and not stopped.


Maintain a high degree of suspicion, and don’t “write off” things like bruises, weight loss, falling and dehydration to frailty or specific medical problems.


While these problems can occur for legitimate reasons in nursing homes, they can also be signs of elder abuse and/or neglect.