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What Is Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes?

The reality of elder abuse in nursing homes can be a shock for those who entrust the care of their loved ones to others. After all, transitioning into a nursing home is supposed to be easy. The nursing home’s administrators and caregivers are supposed to welcome and guide you, and they are supposed to provide the support you need to live a comfortable, healthy, and fulfilling life. 

Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. 

Despite the very reason that nursing homes exist, and despite nursing homes’ obligations under Wisconsin law, elder abuse in nursing homes, memory care facilities, and other assisted living facilities is alarmingly common. We regularly hear from residents and family members who are struggling to cope with the effects of various forms of abuse. If you or someone you love lives in a Wisconsin nursing home, it is important to know the signs of abuse—and to seek help promptly if you have any reason for concern. 

5 Types of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

What does elder abuse look like, and how do you know if you or a loved one is a victim? Elder abuse in nursing homes usually takes one of five main forms: 

1. Neglect of Nursing Home Residents’ Needs

Neglect of residents’ needs is a common form of elder abuse in nursing homes. This can range from failing to provide residents with nutrition, hydration, and medications all the way to completely abandoning residents in their rooms. When a resident’s basic needs aren’t met, his or her physical health can deteriorate rapidly, and neglect and abandonment can have psychological effects as well. 

Other common forms of neglect include leaving immobile residents unattended for extended periods of time, failing to assist residents with going to the bathroom, and allowing residents to elope from the nursing home’s premises. None of these are acceptable, and they are all forms of elder abuse for which nursing homes can—and should—be held accountable. 

2. Psychological Abuse

Yelling at residents, belittling them, mocking or ridiculing them, ignoring them, and making them feel afraid or abandoned are all forms of psychological abuse. While many people are shocked to learn that these are concerns in nursing homes, the unfortunate reality is that these are all far too common. 

In many cases, caregivers and other staff members will threaten residents with physical harm if they report the caregivers’ or staff members’ misconduct. This is a form of psychological abuse as well. Nursing home residents should never fear for their safety; and, when they do, this is usually a sign of a serious problem.  

3. Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is also alarmingly common, and it can also take a variety of different forms. Along with causing direct physical harm (i.e., by punching, slapping, or kicking), physical abuse can also involve pushing a resident onto the ground. Falls can be very dangerous for elderly individuals; and, while these incidents can be made to look like accidents, our lawyers know how to prove when a staff member or caregiver is responsible for a nursing home resident’s injuries. 

4. Sexual Abuse 

Sexual abuse involves any unwanted sexual contact or other form of sexual interaction. This includes touching, penetration, exposure, forced nudity, and showing residents explicit photos or videos. Sexual abuse is an extremely serious issue; and yet, too often, it goes unreported, uninvestigated, and unnoticed. If you have been victimized, you are not alone, and it is important for you to know that help is available. 

5. Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a major concern for residents of Wisconsin nursing homes as well. While financial abuse can have significant consequences for any resident, it can be devastating for those who are on a fixed income or who have limited means. Yet, these residents are often the most targeted. Financial abuse occurs at both the organizational and individual levels, with some of the most common examples including:

  • Overbilling residents in violation of their contracts
  • Stealing residents’ cash and credit cards
  • Forging residents’ checks or causing them to write checks when they don’t realize the consequences 
  • Pressuring or tricking residents into providing their bank account information 
  • Pressuring or tricking residents into changing their estate plans

All forms of elder abuse in nursing homes are unacceptable. There is no justification, and there is no excuse. If you have questions or need help, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. 

Contact the Wisconsin Elder Abuse Lawyers at Boller & Vaughan 

With offices in Madison, we represent nursing home residents and families throughout Wisconsin. We have recovered millions of dollars in financial compensation for victims of elder abuse in nursing homes statewide. 
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing elder abuse at a nursing home, memory care facility, or other assisted care facility, please get in touch with the Madison attorneys at Boller & Vaughan today online or at (608) 268-0268 for a FREE case evaluation.