What is Elder Abuse?

A. Elder abuse is any sort of mistreatment of the senior that can cause physical, emotional or property damage.

As you can see, the definition of elder abuse is incredibly broad, and many different things can be considered to be elder abuse. When we think of elder abuse, we generally think of physical abuse, where staff members of the nursing home hit or are physically aggressive with nursing home residents. The truth is that elder abuse extends far beyond that.

When it comes to the nursing home setting, not only are actions committed by nursing home staff considered to be elder abuse, but actions of fellow nursing home residents may also cause the nursing home to be held legally responsible. Even if two residents have a physical altercation, it is considered to be an incident of abuse that the nursing home is obligated to investigate and report to the proper authority. Skilled nursing facilities are obligated to provide their residents with a safe environment free from abuse no matter where the abuse originates. The nursing home has the obligation to screen both staff and residents to make sure that the facility is safe for all residents.

Of course, elder abuse does begin with physical mistreatment of seniors. It is not limited to instances in where the senior is actually struck. It could also include being physically rough with seniors. For example, if staff is transferring the resident from their bed with their wheelchair and they are needlessly rough and the resident is injured, this can also be considered abuse.

Elder abuse also encompasses instances in which nursing home staff are verbally aggressive or demean or humiliate a resident. Verbal abuse is considered abuse under the regulatory definition. Verbal abuse will have physical manifestations for the elderly since it will cause them anguish and hurt. Many times, when the elderly have been mistreated in any way, they may stop eating or have other physical problems that result from the upset that they have experienced. There have been several other disturbing incidents recently where nursing home staff have taken videos of elderly residents with dementia and have published them on social media in a manner that mocks or makes light of the elderly’s condition. This is also a form of abuse since it treats the resident with extreme disrespect, even if the senior never knows that their video is one social media.

When a senior is taken advantage of financially, that is also a form of elder abuse. These seniors are in a vulnerable condition since they are no longer able to make their own financial decisions. Occasionally, staff members or visitors to nursing homes try to gain the resident’s trust and then persuade them to make financial decisions for their benefit. Nursing homes are subject to strict regulations as to how they deal with the resident’s money and property. When they fail to follow these rules to the letter, it may also be a form of abuse since financial abuse may also cause the senior harm in many ways.

Also included in the term elder abuse is any form of sexual abuse of the resident. This extends to any and all types of inappropriate touching. This includes sexual contact initiated by nursing home staff as well as by other residents or even residents of nursing homes. It includes any kind of kind of contact or behavior. This is a difficult type of abuse to detect sometimes since many of the victims of sexual abuse cannot verbalize or communicate what has happened to them.

Nursing home neglect is also sometimes described as a form of nursing home abuse. This includes situations where the staff has not provided the senior with the care necessary to live their daily lives. Nursing home neglect can result in dangerous conditions such as urinary tract infections and pressure ulcers. Many nursing home lawsuits alleged both abuse and neglect interchangeably.

Nursing home are required to follow many different regulations when it comes to abuse. Besides an absolute prohibition on any type of resident abuse, they are also required to immediately investigate and report any reports of elder abuse whether they believe it is credible or not.

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