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Factors that can Increase the Likelihood of Abuse

Nursing home abuse affects millions of nursing home residents and their families each year. The most common forms of abuse are physical, psychological, sexual, or financial. Every nursing home resident can be the victim of abuse. However, there are certain factors that can increase the likelihood that abuse will occur. These factors include the following:

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Factors that can Increase the Likelihood of Abuse Infographic


History of Complaints

A nursing home with a history of complaints and charges of nursing home abuse likely has a culture that facilitates future cases of abuse. To protect loved ones, thoroughly investigate a nursing home prior to placing a loved one under their care.

Mental Health

The mental health of a patient is an important factor in determining whether a patient will be abused. Patients suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer's are "easy targets" for malicious individuals. In many cases, patients won't remember the abuse, and if they do, their mental health condition is often used as a shield by the perpetrator by claiming the patient is imagining the abuse.


70% of elder sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes, yet only 30% of cases are reported to authorities. In over 81% of incidents, it is the person's primary caregiver who is responsible for the abuse.

Women are six times as likely to be the victim of elder sexual abuse as men. Abuse can include unwanted physical contact, the taking of sexually explicit photographs, rape, or forced nudity.

Financial Status

The personal wealth of patients can be stolen regardless of their financial status. However, patients with considerable financial resources present an appealing target for thieves. Jewelry, artwork, and other personal possessions can "go missing" from a patient's room. In the United States, it is estimated that elder financial abuse costs patients and their families upwards of $2.9 million per year.

Distance from Family

Distance from family can play a significant role in whether a nursing home resident will be abused, and whether that abuse will be reported by the resident. Nursing home residents whose family rarely visit, or who live far away may feel isolated. They may keep the abuse to themselves in order to avoid alarming family who are too far away to do anything about the abuse.

Staff Shortages

Overworked staff can become highly stressed in a nursing home setting. This can create a stage where a culture of abuse can flourish. Not only can overworked staff take their frustrations out on nursing home residents, they can feel impervious to any charges or penalties due to the fact that the facility is already understaffed.

Poor Training

Poorly trained nursing home staff can lack the skills necessary to properly care for patients. This can lead to the use of excessive force, delays in treatment, improper application of medical appliances, etc. Poorly trained nursing home staff and high turnover rates are a common factor behind many cases of abuse.


The psychological condition of the nursing home aide can have a significant impact on whether they will abuse a patient. Nursing home aides who have mental health conditions can physically, psychologically, or sexually assault a patient without remorse. Caregivers who have personality traits such as narcissism may see nothing wrong with their actions and behaviors towards their patients. Moreover, caregivers suffering from conditions such as depression may seek to "share" their misery by inflicting it upon their patients.

Advanced Age

Older patients are less likely to have family nearby or friends who visit regularly. This makes them easier targets for abusers. Moreover, their physical condition makes it less likely that they will be able to resist physical, sexual, or emotional assaults. Their physical frailty also increases the likelihood that any physical or sexual assault will cause severe injury that may not heal and could become life-threatening.

Family Conflict

Conflict within the family can increase the likelihood of abuse. If family members are at odds with one another, it can be difficult to coordinate and monitor care. Moreover, residents whose families are fighting may withhold notifying them of the abuse in order to avoid placing more stress on already stressed family ties.


Residents who have addictions to everything from alcohol and nicotine to painkillers can become subject to abuse. Malfeasant caregivers may seek to withhold the resident's alcohol, cigarettes, or pain medication in return for financial or sexual favors. They may also threaten to take these addictive substances away should the patient report the abuse.

A nursing home abuse lawyer in Algonquin can help family members recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. Once abuse of a loved one is suspected, it is imperative to act quickly in order to protect the individual's health and welfare. An attorney can help gather evidence and help the family remove the loved one from the situation and pursue legal recourse against the abuser and their employer.


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