Abuse can take many different forms, a fact which confuses some people. Not all abuse is physical. It is possible for people to engage in emotional abuse and financial abuse of others as well. Even physical abuse, which might seem easy to explain and understand, comes in a variety of forms. Not all of them are as obvious as you might think.

While it is certainly true that people working at a nursing home might strike, shove or kick your loved one as a way to terrorize or punish them, they could suffer physical abuse that doesn’t leave any kind of bruising or involve physically hitting your aging loved one. Beyond bruises and complaints of being struck, what kind of behavior from nursing home staff might constitute physical abuse?

Nursing homes that sometimes inappropriately use restraints

Older adults, especially those experiencing cognitive decline, can present a risk to themselves and the public through their behavior. They could strike themselves or others, pull out their hair or otherwise engage in behaviors that leave people worried about them harming themselves.

When someone is in a state of extreme agitation, restraints may become necessary for the safety of that person and the staff working with them. It’s also possible that people may have adverse reactions to medications that could result in temporary psychosis and necessitate restraints.

However, barring extreme circumstances where someone presents an immediate threat of harm to themselves or other people, it isn’t appropriate for nursing homes to use restraints. Some staff members might even use restraints to punish people for complaining or requesting certain services and assistance. Improper use of physical restraints or locking someone into a room are forms of physical abuse.

Some forms of neglect have physical consequences

Most of the time, when people discuss nursing home neglect, they talk about unintentional oversight due to inadequate staffing or improper training. However, neglect can stem from maliciousness.

Staff members might intentionally leave your loved one for days without a bath, refuse to clean their room, make them wait to go to the bathroom or even deny them meals as a means of abusing and terrorizing them.

If your loved one has experienced physical abuse, whether they were struck, denied food or improperly restrained, you may need to take steps to end the mistreatment by moving your loved one to a new facility and to hold the facility that abused your loved one accountable, possibly by filing a civil lawsuit.