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What are the 3 Most Common Complaints About Nursing Homes?

Elder abuse is a mostly silent epidemic in America, silent because instances of elder abuse are often swept under the rug. The National Council on Aging defines elder abuse as follows:[1]

  • Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.”

A fact-finding mission performed by the National Council on Aging and the National Center on Elder Abuse found that upwards of five million elderly Americans are abused every year, leading to elderly Americans losing aspects of their dignity, security, and health. And most concerning, a number of elderly Americans lose their lives every year as a direct result of elder abuse.

While elder abuse appears in countless forms, three types of abuse manifest all too often in nursing homes.

Three Most Common Complaints of Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Because elder abuse often goes unreported, it can be difficult to ascertain the most prevalent types. Thankfully, a group of researchers at the World Health Organization convinced a number of current and former nursing center workers to come forward and speak openly about the real conditions in long-term living facilities and nursing homes. And given the available data arrived at from the surveys, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and nursing home neglect were determined as the most common causes of abuse in nursing homes.

  • Physical abuse. When a resident of a nursing home suffers bodily harm or injury, this constitutes physical abuse. According to the World Health Organization researchers who conducted the survey, about 9% of nursing home staff admitted to physically abusing residents, which suggests the actual percentage is likely far higher. Examples of elderly Americans being abused in nursing homes include being punched, kicked, shoved, restrained with straps or ties, or knocked over.[2]
  • Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse refers to someone using verbal or psychological means to control, influence, suppress, or harm someone else. Again according to the WHO research team, about 32% of nursing home staff members said they emotionally abused residents at some point in their careers, and the actual percentage is likely far higher.
  • Nursing home neglect. This is perhaps the most insidious form of elder abuse because it can be difficult to track down and address. But this form of abuse must be exposed because it is quite harmful, even life-threatening. Simply put, nursing home neglect occurs when staff members at a care facility failed to provide proper medical care. As a result, the resident’s physical and emotional well-being suffers.

NRS Injury Law is Here to Help

The partners at NRS Injury Law specialize in a wide range of legal fields. But before they are lawyers, the NRS partners are community members, and there are few community phenomena more tragic than nursing home neglect or the ongoing abuse of a community’s senior citizens.

If you or a family member was injured, abused, neglected, or harmed by a nursing home, please get in touch with the NRS Injury Law legal team today. Our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys firmly believe that every person is entitled to safe and comfortable long-term care, and that’s why our team is committed to ending all forms of elder neglect. Call our office at 855.468.4878 or fill out our online contact form.


[1] NCO. “Get the Facts on Elder Abuse.” National Council on Aging, 2021.

[2] WHO. “Abuse of older people.” World Health Organization, 2022.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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