Elderly Abuse Causes

nursing-home-elder-abuse-causesElder abuse is a serious issue that often goes unreported. It's estimated that five cases go unreported for every case of elder abuse reported, which means that millions of elders are suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to be taking care of them.

If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused, neglected, or exploited, reach out to the Nursing Home Law Center to file a compensation claim.

Our nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center can provide health care professionals with information and resources on elder abuse prevention. We can also help residents and their families file a claim for compensation if they have been injured due to elder abuse.

Contact our law firm at (800) 926-7565 for more information on your legal options for holding those responsible accountable. Elder abuse is a pervasive and often hidden problem. Every year, millions of elders are abused, neglected, or exploited.

What is Elderly Abuse?

Elder abuse is a term used to describe any type of mistreatment that is inflicted on an older adult.

In elder abuse cases, the victim may be physically frail or cognitively vulnerable. Older adults abuse can occur anywhere – in a nursing home, a family member’s home, or even in the elder’s own home.

Statistics Of Elderly Negligence In The United States

Each year, millions of elders are abused, neglected, or exploited. This abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional manipulation
  • Financial exploitation.

Here are some statistics on the incidence of elder abuse in the United States:

  • It's estimated (according to the US Department of Justice) that 1 in 10 elders experiences some form of elder abuse each year.
  • Elder abuse costs the United States $2.6 billion annually.
  • 90% of elder abuse is committed by family members or friends of the victim.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the following are some signs that an older person may be a victim of elder abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, or fractures
  • Sudden changes in a financial situation
  • Social isolation from social activities or family member gatherings
  • Appearing frightened or evasive when discussing the caregiver
  • Poor hygiene or unusual weight loss

If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused, neglected, or exploited, it's important to take action. You can contact your local adult protective services agency or the police to make a report. You can also visit the National Elder Abuse Awareness Website for more information and resources.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is a catch-all term for any type of mistreatment of a nursing home resident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines nursing home abuse as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical pain, or mental anguish.”

Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, but all types of abuse have two things in common:

  • They are perpetrated by someone in a position of power over the victim, and
  • They cause physical or emotional harm to the victim.

Nursing home abuse is common, and it’s often underreported. In fact, a study conducted by the CDC found that more than 1 in 3 nursing home residents have been abused.

Whatever the cause, nursing home abuse is never acceptable. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, it’s important to take immediate action.

Understanding Family Elder Abuse or Neglect

Family elder victimization or neglect is abuse within a private home among family members. The perpetrator is typically someone who lives with the victim, such as an adult child, spouse, or other relatives.

The type of abuse or neglect can vary, but it often includes financial exploitation, such as when the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s finances for their own gain.

Why Does Elder Abuse Happen?

There are many reasons why neglect and maltreatment occur. Some abusers may be motivated by greed, while others may simply be unable to control their anger.

Elder victimization and maltreatment are never justifiable, regardless of whether it's from nonprofessional family caregivers like:

  • Spouses
  • Adult children
  • Other friends and relatives

They find it hard to cope with the demands of caregiving and can become frustrated, resentful, or angry.

Some professional caregivers may abuse or neglect elders because of the:

  • High demands of the job,
  • Low pay, or little supervision.

Others may have a personality disorder that causes them to act out in abusive or violent ways.

Here are some of the most common reasons why elderly neglect happens

  1. The abuser may feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the demands of caregiving.
  2. The abuser may be seeking to control the older person.
  3. The abuser may be motivated by greed, wanting to gain access to the victim's money or property.
  4. The abuser may be mentally ill or addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  5. The abuser may be elderly himself and unable to cope with the demands of aging.

Whatever the reason, elder abuse is always wrong. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, please reach out for help.

Types of Elder Abuse

There are many different types of elder abuse. Here are some of the most common types:

Physical Violence

It includes hitting, slapping, pushing, or any other type of physical violence.


It includes not providing adequate food, water, or medical care. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional.

However, elder maltreatment is often the result of nursing home staff members becoming distressed and overwhelmed with their job duties and inappropriately blaming the nursing home residents.

Emotional Elder Abuse

Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, includes verbal attacks, threats, humiliation, or isolation. Emotional abuse can be highly damaging and can often be harder to identify than other types of abuse.

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation includes stealing an elder’s money or possessions, coercing the victim into signing documents or using their position of trust to exploit them financially. Financial fraud is one of the most common types of elder abuse, examples include using a person's credit cards and bank accounts to withdraw money without their permission.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any type of sexual contact that occurs without the victim’s consent. Many seniors suffer from sexual abuse. This type of abuse can include:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Rape
  • Unwanted sexual contact or advances
  • Sexual harassment
  • Taking sexual advantage of a person who is not able to understand or give consent, such as someone with dementia.

Healthcare Fraud Abuse:

 Healthcare fraud is a growing problem and can be very costly for elders. Healthcare fraud includes:

  • Billing the victim for services they did not receive
  • Overcharging for services with non-critical medical conditions
  • Charging for unnecessary medical services.

If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused, please seek assistance for help. Many organizations like WHO and National Center on Elder Abuse can provide assistance and support.

Causes of Elderly Neglect or Abuse

Many different factors can contribute to elder mistreatment. Often, the abuser is a family member or caregiver in a nursing facility. In some cases, the abuser may be a stranger.

There are many different reasons why someone might abuse or neglect an older adult. Some abusers may think that the victim is not capable of taking care of themselves and that they are a burden. Others may be angry or resentful towards the elder for real or perceived wrongs. Still, others may abuse elders to gain power or control over them.

Other common causes of elder victimization include:

  • Financial difficulties - the abuser may feel like they are unable to care for the elderly person on their own and may take out their frustration on the victim
  • Mental impairment issues - Other providers may have personal issues of mental illness that causes them to lash out at those around them.
  • Substance abuse - alcohol or drug addiction can lead to abusive behavior
  • Poor physical health - the abuser may be unable to care for the elderly person properly due to their health issues
  • Lack of social support - the abuser, may feel isolated and alone, leading them to take out their anger on the victim
  • Understaffed nursing facility: Nursing homes can be understaffed or may not have the resources to care for all of their residents properly.

Understaffed situations can lead to staff members who are overworked and stressed, which can, in turn, lead to elder maltreatment.

Personal issues of family members and caregivers are also essential in determining the underlying causes of some of the maltreatment.

Caregivers who have extreme personal issues psychologically, financially, and physically may take these problems out on the nursing home residents.

Warning Signs of Elderly Neglect

Many warning signs may indicate that an elderly person is being abused. It generally shows having serious medical conditions with no proper medical care or inability to pay bills.

  • Displays signs of trauma, like rocking back and forth, has unexplained bruises, burns, broken bones, cuts or scars, broken eyeglasses/frames, unsuitable clothing, or physical signs of punishment.
  • Shows sudden changes in behavior, including becoming withdrawn, depressed, or agitated.
  • Appears malnourished with drastic weight loss, or has untreated bed sores.
  • Lacks basic necessities, like food, water, heat, or medical care.
  • Living in unsanitary conditions with no running water, electricity, or proper sanitation.

If you notice any of these signs, it's important to reach out to an elderly person and see if they need help. You can contact your local police department or social services agency. You can also call the National Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

Risk Factors For Elderly Neglect And Abuse

There are many risk factors that increase the likelihood of elderly abuse and neglect. These include:

  • Being a woman: Women are more likely to be abused than men, especially if they live alone.
  • Being over the age of 60: The risk of abuse and neglect increases with age.
  • Living alone: Elderly people who live alone are more likely to be abused than those who live with others.
  • Having a physical or mental disability: People with physical or mental disabilities are at a higher risk of being abused than those without disabilities.
  • Being isolated from family and friends: Elderly people who are isolated from their loved ones are more likely to be abused than those who have a support system.
  • Dependency on others: Elderly people who depend on others for their care are at a higher risk of being abused than those who are independent.
How Elder Abuse Can be Prevented

Several things can be done to prevent abuse from happening. First and foremost, we need to raise awareness about the issue. We also need to support victims and ensure they have a safe place to turn for help.

Here are some other ways to reduce elder abuse in a nursing facility:

Educate Family Members and Friends About the Warning Signs Of Elderly Neglect and Abuse

The first step in preventing elder abuse is to educate yourself and others about the warning signs. Many people are unaware that neglect and abuse of the elderly are common problems.

Encourage Reporting Of Abuse

It's important to have a system where elders can report nursing home abuse without fear of retribution.

Ensure that Caregivers are Properly Trained

It's important to ensure that caregivers are properly trained in caring for elderly patients. In addition, they should be familiar with the warning signs of abuse and be prepared to handle any situations that may arise.

Develop Policies and Procedures for Dealing With Older Adult’s Needs

It's important to have a plan of care to deal with the elder person’s needs. This plan should include protocols for reporting self-neglect, responding to complaints, and investigating abuse allegations.

Provide Resources and Support for Caregivers

Caregivers need to be adequately supported to provide quality care for elders, including providing resources such as training, education, and support services.

Reporting Elder Abuse and Neglect

There are a number of reasons why elder abuse and neglect may go unreported. Often, the victim is afraid to speak up, either because they depend on the abuser for care or because they are afraid of retaliation.

Other times, the victim may be unable to communicate what is happening due to cognitive impairments. Additionally, family members or other caregivers may be unaware of the abuse or might be in denial about it.

If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused or neglected, there are a number of ways to report it. You can contact your local police department or sheriff's office, or you can contact your state's adult protective services agency. You can also call the National Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

Even if the elder refuses to leave the abusive situation, it's still important to report it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Elder abuse is a serious problem that can have a devastating effect on victims. Unfortunately, it is also a problem that is often misunderstood. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, it is important to get help. The following are some frequently asked questions about elder abuse.

How Can an Attorney Help Me with My Elder Abuse Claim?

An attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your claim is filed in a timely manner. They can also help you gather evidence to support your claim and will work to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.

Elder abuse is a serious problem, and it is important to take action if you suspect that your loved one is being abused. Consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to protect your loved ones and hold the abuser accountable for their actions.

How Long Would An Elder Abuse Lawsuit Take?

The length of time it takes to resolve an elder abuse lawsuit depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the abuse and the availability of evidence. In some cases, lawsuits may be resolved relatively quickly, while in others they may take months or even years to reach a resolution.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing an Elder Abuse Claim?

The statute of limitations for filing an elder abuse claim varies from state to state. However, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is filed within the appropriate time frame.

Can I Get A Restraining Order Against My Abuser?

If you are a victim of elder abuse, you may be able to obtain a restraining order against your abuser. This can help protect you from further harm and give you time to seek other forms of assistance, such as filing a lawsuit.

What Kind Of Compensation Can I Get From An Elder Abuse Lawsuit?

If you are successful in an elder abuse lawsuit, you may be awarded compensation for your damages, including medical expenses, and emotional distress. You may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are designed to punish the abuser and deter future abuse.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer for Elderly Abuse Cases

There are four elements to civil tort law that must be proven to resolve a case of elderly neglect. These elements are:

  1. Duty: The caregiver must have a duty to care for the elder patient.
  2. Breach of Duty: The caregiver must have breached their duty by failing to provide adequate care for the elder patient.
  3. Harm: The elder patient must have suffered harm due to the caregiver's breach of duty.
  4. Causation: The harm must be caused by the caregiver's breach of duty.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of elder neglect, it is essential to consult with our nursing home abuse lawyers.

Are you or a loved one a victim of elder abuse or immediate danger? If so, please contact us for a free confidential consultation. We will review your case and discuss your legal options.

We will help you receive the justice and compensation you or your loved one deserves. Call us today at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form.


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