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Common Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes


Nursing home abuse is one of the most horrific things that can happen, yet it affects tens of thousands of nursing home residents every year. In many cases, nursing home abuse is a crime, and in nearly all cases, it is an infringement of a nursing home resident’s rights, which can result in civil lawsuits. The following provides an overview of the most common types of abuse in nursing homes and the signs to watch for.

If you or a loved one are a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys in South Carolina can help. Contact us to learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member uses some form of physical force to punish, control, or intentionally cause harm to a resident, and the force that is used is unnecessary or excessive. For example, it may be necessary to restrain a resident who is causing harm to themselves or others. What would be unnecessary, though, is drugging a resident to sedate them without any cause.

In addition to the improper use of medication and drugs, other acts of physical abuse include:

  • Denying a resident necessary medication with intent to cause them harm
  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Pushing/shoving
  • Biting
  • Improperly restraining
  • Burning

Physical abuse is most often recognized by physical signs, such as:

  • Burn marks
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Bite marks
  • Bruises
  • Cuts or lacerations

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is one of the most abhorrent types of abuse that can be initiated against a nursing home resident. Sexual abuse refers to any unwanted sexual behavior between a nursing home resident and a nursing home staff member. Some forms of sexual abuse are:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Taking or showing nude photographs

Sexual abuse can be very difficult to recognize. Some signs to watch out for that may indicate sexual abuse is occurring include:

  • New sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Torn or bloodied underwear
  • Signs of physical restraint, such as bruising on wrists
  • Emotional changes, including withdrawal, depression, or anger

Psychological Abuse/Emotional Abuse

One of the hardest types of abuse to recognize is that of psychological or emotional abuse. This type of abuse occurs when a nursing home resident bullies, teases, intimidates, threatens, or socially isolates a resident. Psychological and emotional abuse can be extremely traumatic, and can have negative consequences on a resident’s physical health. This type of abuse may be recognized by the following signs:

  • A resident exhibiting fear towards a caretaker
  • A resident asking to leave a nursing home/care facility
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Emotional changes
  • Loss of interest in activities

Financial Exploitation

Another common type of abuse in nursing homes that is often overlooked is financial exploitation. Financial exploitation occurs when a nursing home staff member takes advantage of their position to exploit a resident. Here are some forms of financial exploitation:

  • A staff member convincing a resident to take out a new loan and lend the staff member cash
  • A staff member convincing a resident change their will or other estate planning documents
  • A staff member stealing from the nursing home resident directly

If you are the loved one of a nursing home resident, it’s important to keep an eye out for any financial changes, including large cash withdrawals, new loans or lines of credit, estate plan changes, and more.


Another way that nursing home residents can be harmed is neglect. While abuse is intentional, neglect is often not. Instead, neglect may occur because of an understaffing issue or other management problems.

Neglect can take shape in many forms, and might include actions such as:

  • A resident not being properly supervised at mealtimes, and therefore not receiving proper nutrition
  • A resident not getting the right medication
  • A resident who is bedridden not getting moved routinely, resulting in bedsores
  • A resident slipping and falling because no one is available to assist them in using the restroom
  • A resident getting caught in the bed railing because no one is available to help them move
  • A resident suffering from poor personal hygiene as a result of a lack of care

If you notice that your loved one is losing weight, seems dehydrated or malnourished, is deteriorating in condition, is unclean, or has bedsores, this may indicate that nursing home neglect is occurring.

What to Do If You Recognize Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s important to take action very quickly. Nursing home residents are extremely vulnerable and could suffer irreversible harm if neglect and abuse continue. Our lawyers strongly recommend you take the following steps:

  • Call the police if you believe that your loved one is at imminent risk of bodily injury or death
  • Report your suspicions of nursing home abuse or neglect to a nursing home manager or supervisor
  • File a complaint with South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control
  • Call a lawyer who can advise you of your options and take immediate action to protect your elderly loved one

If appropriate, filing a civil lawsuit may be possible. By filing a civil lawsuit, you can recover compensation for the value of harm suffered as a result of nursing home abuse. Our lawyers can guide you through this process and advise you of your rights.

Call the Marc Brown Law Firm Today

At the Marc Brown Law Firm, our experienced Sumter, South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers know how serious nursing home abuse is. If you believe that nursing home abuse or neglect is occurring, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have years of experience and are here to assist you in taking action and recovering compensation for harm suffered. To learn more, please schedule a free consultation with our law office by calling us directly or sending us a message at your convenience.

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