Watching Out for the Signs of Physical, Emotional and Sexual Elder Abuse

When an elderly person is sexually, emotionally or physically abused in a nursing home, he or she may experience severe consequences.

Elder abuse is a prevalent problem in California nursing homes and nursing homes throughout the country. According to the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that nearly 4 million older people in the U.S. are abused in some way every year. Those who have a loved one living in a nursing home and want to prevent him or her from becoming seriously injured in an abusive situation should watch out for the following signs of sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Physical abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse ("NCEA"), physical abuse occurs when physical force is used to inflict physical pain, bodily injury or impairment on another person. This form of nursing home abuse may include the use of drugs and physical restraints as well as acts of violence, like shaking, slapping, kicking or beating the elderly person. An elderly person may be the victim of physical abuse if her or she:

  • Develops rope marks, lacerations or bruises throughout his or her body
  • Experiences sprains, internal bleeding or dislocations
  • Has cuts, punctures and other injuries in various stages of healing throughout his or her body

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when a person uses nonverbal or verbal actions that cause another person to suffer from distress, pain or anguish, states the NCEA. For example, when an elderly person is emotionally abused, his or her caretaker may humiliate, threaten, intimidate or harass him or her. Nursing home residents who are emotionally abused may become easily upset or agitated and may also become unusually unresponsive and withdrawn. Additionally, they may exhibit behaviors, like rocking or sucking, that are usually associated with dementia.

Sexual abuse

The NCEA defines sexual abuse as any unwanted sexual action that occurs with an elderly person. For example, an elderly person is sexually abused when his or her caretaker touches him or her without permission or sexually assaults him or her.

Those who are sexually abused in a nursing home may develop bruises around their genital area or breasts and experience vaginal or anal bleeding that cannot be explained. They may also contract a genital infection or venereal disease and have underclothing that is stained, torn or bloody.

California nursing home victims who are abused may experience a reduced quality of life and may also be more likely to pass away prematurely. Compared with elderly people who are not abused, the NCEA states that mistreated elderly people have a 300 percent higher risk of death. If you believe that one of your loved ones was the victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse in a nursing home, reach out to an attorney to determine what legal steps should be taken next.


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