The elderly are often victims of abuse. There are different types of abuse, and certain factors make older adults more vulnerable. 

People who live in nursing homes are at higher risk of abuse, and there are certain signs to look out for. 

Types and warning signs of abuse 

According to the National Council on Aging, around 10% of the elderly experience abuse of some kind. Sexual, physical and mental abuse is common, but there are other types of abuse that occur: 

  • Passive neglect – Lack of basic needs such as clothing, medicine, shelter and food 
  • Confinement – Isolation or restraint 
  • Financial exploitation – The withholding or misuse of money and other assets 
  • Willful deprivation – Not allowing assistance and basic needs while subjecting the person to potential harm 

If someone has a loved one who is in a nursing home, it is more difficult to know if there is abuse going on, but there are some signs to look out for. Signs of physical abuse include burns, bruises, broken bones and abrasions. Neglect may result in poor hygiene, bedsores and unexplained weight loss. Signs of emotional abuse include withdrawal, depression, argumentative behavior and strained relationships. 

Common abusers of the elderly 

Mental impairment and isolation increase the risk of abuse. In fact, almost 50% of adults with dementia experience neglect or abuse. More than half of the abusers are family members such as spouses and children. Nursing home staff are also perpetrators. 

According to CBS News, residents of nursing homes commonly abuse other residents. About 75% of incidents include verbal abuse, while 25% are physical. Examples of resident-to-resident abuse include name calling, sexual assault, rummaging through another’s belongings and hitting another with a wheelchair.