According to a 2020 report from the National Council on Aging, up to 5 million Americans over the age of 60 will experience abuse each year. While not all of these cases occur in nursing homes, the elderly residents of these facilities are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse from staff, caretakers, or even other residents. A study published in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect found that as many as 10% of nursing home residents report experiencing physical abuse, ranging from hitting and kicking to more extreme forms of violence.

Unfortunately, seniors and other adults who live in nursing homes are especially vulnerable to abuse and often have little chance of defending themselves against their abusers. For this reason, they rely on family, friends, and others to protect them against abusive caregivers.


What is physical abuse?


Physical abuse is one of the most common types of abuse, and nursing home residents may suffer victimization from almost anyone on staff, other residents, or even visitors. According to certified nursing assistants (CNAs) surveyed in 2000 for a project report to the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform:

  • 21 percent reported seeing a staff member push, grab, or hit a resident
  • 12 percent reported seeing a staff member slap a resident
  • Seven percent witnessed a resident suffer physical abuse through kicking or punching.

These are terrifying statistics for those who trust their loved one’s care to these professionals.

In addition to grabbing, shoving, or pushing, physical abuse can include:

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Shaking
  • Pinching
  • Burning
  • Neglect
  • Physical punishment
  • Inappropriate or unapproved use of medications
  • Physical restraints, when not medically required


Is neglect a type of physical abuse in nursing homes?


Neglect is a form of physical abuse and one that often runs rampant in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Research published in Nursing Management found that more than half of all nursing home staff who participated in the study mistreated a patient during the previous year. In two-thirds of these cases, the mistreatment came in the form of neglect.

Most nursing home residents no longer live independently because they cannot provide for their own needs. This means their caregivers must ensure they:

  • Remain safe
  • Receive food and water
  • Are clothed
  • Have shelter
  • Receive assistance with personal hygiene
  • Take their medication as prescribed
  • Get any necessary medical care
  • Do not develop bedsores or other similar health conditions
  • Other related tasks that the senior can no longer perform themselves


How do I know if my loved one is suffering from abuse?


Recognizing the signs of physical abuse is somewhat easier than spotting signs of other types of nursing home abuse. While bruises, welts, lacerations, and signs of neglect should always be taken seriously, be careful not to overlook other unexplained injuries, strange findings, or a senior who seems fearful of a particular staff member. These may also be signs of physical abuse.


What do I do if I suspect abuse?


If you suspect nursing home abuse, the first thing you need to do is take action to protect the victim. If they are in immediate danger, calling 911 is the best option. Officers will both protect your loved one and notify the proper authorities to investigate the incident.


Do I need to enlist the help of an attorney?


The elder abuse attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault help protect the victims of physical abuse in nursing homes – and other types of abuse – in Ohio and southeast Michigan. If your loved one suffered abuse from a caregiver, we can help your family recover damages for the resulting medical bills, as well as for your loved one’s pain and suffering.

Contact us today at 419-843-6663 to learn more.