When people think of abuse, it is physical abuse that generally comes to mind. But, physical abuse is not the only type of abuse that your loved one might experience in a nursing home. It is important that you and your loved one are aware of each type of abuse. In addition, this allows you to recognize this abuse if your loved one experiences it. Use the definitions below to understand the most common types of abuse in nursing homes.


Physical abuse is as any unwanted and intentional physical contact. So, some common examples include: hitting, punching, and any other physical injuries.

Emotional and psychological abuse is an intentional act to reduce a person’s self-esteem. Common forms include: screaming, insulting the resident, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, etc.

Sexual abuse is any unwanted and intentional sexual contact. It is sexual abuse whether this is between a resident and a staff member or two residents. This includes sexual assault, unwanted touching, coerced nudity, sodomy, and more.

Financial abuse is a common type of abuse that the elderly face. This can occur when someone takes advantage of an elderly person’s financial situation. This can include forging a signature and stealing possessions. Other examples include coercing someone into signing a document, cashing checks without permission, etc. Another common form of financial abuse is healthcare fraud. Many elderly people go through this when they are in a nursing home.

Neglect occurs when the staff in a nursing home fails to provide basic needs. This includes personal hygiene, food, shelter, clothing, water, medicine, etc.

Discrimination is unfair treatment of a person based on a category that they fall into. For example, people can face discrimination based on race, gender, disability, age, etc.


Healthcare fraud occurs when someone files dishonest or false health care claims so that they can profit from the claims.

Insurance fraud is an action that intends to defraud a person or a company through an insurance process.


Medical errors are any negative effects of health care that could have been prevented. For example, any inaccurate treatment or diagnosis could be considered a medical error.

A common example of abuse in nursing homes is a medication error. A medication error is any event that leads someone to administer an inappropriate type or amount of medication to a patient. For the event to constitute a medication error, it must have been preventable by proper treatment.