The Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect And Nursing Home Abuse


Senior citizens get a lot of respect for their wisdom, experience, and long life. Despite the admiration they receive, many older adults find themselves in harsh situations, including places like nursing homes.

Some folks consider living in nursing homes a struggle. The distance from their families, high costs, and loss of freedom can make anyone, especially older people, depressed. Sadly, there are also cases of seniors experiencing abuse and neglect at the hands of their caretakers. These occurrences can permanently harm residents and ruin the reputation of nursing homes.

If you have an older relative in assisted living, how would you know if they’re being neglected or abused? People usually interchange these concepts, but they’re pretty different. Keep reading to learn how they differ and what the signs of each look like.

Nursing Home Neglect

Neglect in a nursing home is the failure of caretakers to provide the necessary care and attention to their wards. It involves a lack of action from staff and carers, which could worsen the residents’ conditions.

You should consider suing a nursing home for negligence if this happens to your loved one. Doing so may compensate for the damage and help other families choose better places for assisted living.

Negligence against seniors can come in various forms. Here are some common examples of it in a nursing home:

  • Leaving Bed Sores And Other Injuries Untreated

Bed sores are also called pressure ulcers. People receive them from prolonged pressure on the skin, usually by staying in bed for too long. It’s a common issue among bedridden seniors. They’re painful and may become infected when left untreated.

Caretakers working in a nursing home should be able to spot bed sores and treat them since they spend hours caring for residents. They become negligent when they choose to ignore the symptoms.

Bed sores may develop into life-threatening complications if not washed and treated immediately. Poor hygiene is also a sign of neglect among seniors and could happen to sickly residents.

  • Failing To Administer Medication

Anyone with a medical condition needs to consume their medicines on specific schedules. Older people often need frequent reminders about when to take their medications, which is the caretaker’s job. It shows negligence when caretakers don’t provide or administer medicines.

Forgoing treatment for any illness or injury, visible or otherwise, neglects nursing home residents. Senior citizens have weaker bodies. Things could turn fatal if they don’t receive proper and immediate care.

  • Failing To Supply Food And Drink

Due to specific issues, some seniors follow a strict diet to maintain their health. Others may be immobile and require assistance to feed them daily. Nursing homes should provide the necessary nourishment and help they need.

A nursing home and its caretakers are negligent if they fail to supply adequate meals to the residents. Lack of food manifests itself in both severe physical and mental changes. You must observe your older relative and watch out for signs of not eating enough if you suspect negligence in their nursing home.

Aside from these three examples, emotional neglect is also possible. If you notice your loved one suddenly exhibiting behavioral changes, report this incident immediately to your local protective services. Their caretakers may be isolating them and ignoring their needs.

Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse in a nursing home involves intentional violent acts toward a senior person. Even verbal threats are considered abusive. Any form of abuse can damage a person physically and mentally. Take extra care when you admit your older relative when they can no longer care for themselves.

Check these examples of nursing home abuse to become more vigilant to the signs:

  • Causing Physical Harm

It’s hard to believe that anyone could hit a senior citizen. Many of them are frail due to illness or old age. But abusive caretakers may, unfortunately, not think twice about physically harming them.

There are various reasons why a caretaker would physically hurt their ward. Whatever it is, it’s still unacceptable, especially in a nursing home. In fact, physical harm and threats are against the law in many parts of the world, and you can report them to authorities.

But seniors may be too sick or scared to do so. Hence, if you suspect or observe physical or emotional changes concerning your loved one, report it immediately.

  • Participating In Sexual Misconduct

Sexual harassment and assault are also illegal in most countries. It’s terrible to know that even senior citizens become victims of it. A nursing home is supposed to be a safe space. So, it’s a significant issue if caretakers are sexually harming the residents. A sudden change in a senior’s behavior may result from sexual abuse.

If you successfully report an abusive nursing home staff member with sexual misconduct, they could be registered as a sex offender. The offending party may also be imprisoned aside from having their license possibly revoked.

  • Committing Emotional Abuse

In many cultures around the globe, talking back at an elder is looked down upon. But abusive caretakers may yell or shame a nursing home resident for making a mistake or failing to clean up after themselves. Insulting anyone is not only rude but harmful to mental health.

Hence, if a person plans to pursue a career in the care industry, they must learn compassion and empathy. There are gentler ways to correct seniors without using verbal harm. Many people learn better through positive reinforcement and excellent support from those helping them.

Final Thoughts

It’s frightening to know that your older relative may still be hurt in a nursing home. So, research assisted living options thoroughly and choose reputable places for them. A desirable nursing home should have licensed caretakers with excellent track records who are unlikely to perform any harmful acts of neglect and abuse listed above.


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