Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Statistics

statistics of nursing home abuse and neglect

Nursing homes are meant to be safe havens for older adults who need extra care and support in their daily lives. However, statistics reveal a troubling reality: many residents in these facilities face various forms of mistreatment, from physical abuse and neglect to financial exploitation. Together, we will dive into the statistics surrounding nursing home abuse, shedding light on the different types of abuse prevalent in these settings and why they occur. From physical harm to emotional distress, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and even elder abandonment, each aspect of abuse highlights the urgent need for change. By understanding the challenges faced by nursing home residents and the factors contributing to their vulnerability, we can work towards creating safer, more compassionate environments for our elderly population.

Abuse and Neglect Result in Nursing Home Resident Deaths

It is a common misconception that abuse and neglect require an intent to harm a resident. Abuse and neglect occur any time a nursing home resident is deprived of care or services that are essential to their well-being. The most common injuries that result from nursing home abuse and neglect are: 

The vast majority of instances of abuse and neglect are caused by understaffing at the nursing home.  

Types of Abuse Prevalent in Nursing Home

Physical Abuse Statistics for Nursing Home Residents

Physical abuse in nursing homes is a serious breach of trust and dignity, where vulnerable residents suffer harm from those who are supposed to care for them. This abuse can range from rough handling and unnecessary restraints to outright assault. This causes not only physical pain but also emotional scars. It undermines the safety and security that nursing homes should provide. Solving this problem requires more than just watching closely and enforcing rules. It needs a change in how we view and treat the elderly, prioritizing kindness and respect. 

Every case of abuse highlights the urgent need for major changes to protect nursing home residents and ensure they are treated with dignity and safety. This is a concern echoed by statistics that reveal the prevalence and severity of physical abuse in these facilities. Shocking statistics reveal the scope of the issue:

  • Approximately 1 in 10 older adults experience physical abuse each year.
  • Studies indicate that only about 1 in 14 cases of physical elder abuse are reported to authorities.
  • Older adults with cognitive impairments are at significantly higher risk of experiencing physical abuse compared to those without such impairments.

Emotional Abuse Statistics in Nursing Homes

Emotional abuse in nursing homes is a devastating betrayal of trust, where residents endure psychological harm from those entrusted with their well-being. This form of abuse can manifest in various ways, including verbal insults, intimidation, and manipulation. Emotional abuse can lead to residents feeling scared, worthless, and isolated. Such mistreatment not only undermines residents’ mental and emotional health but also gets rid of their sense of safety. Addressing this issue requires more than just enforcing rules. It demands a fundamental shift in how we perceive and treat the elderly, emphasizing empathy and compassion in caregiving practices.

  • Emotional abuse is prevalent among nursing home residents, with estimates suggesting that around 1 in 5 experience some form of emotional mistreatment.
  • In a survey conducted among 577 nurses and nursing aides employed in long-term care facilities, an alarming 81% acknowledged observing instances of emotional elder abuse. 
  • Nearly 1 out of every 3 nursing home staff members admitted to psychologically abusing residents, according to the World Health Organization.

Sexual Abuse Statistics in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse in nursing homes involves various inappropriate sexual acts and behaviors inflicted upon elderly residents who can’t give consent or defend themselves. It’s often hidden and brings feelings of shame. This abuse causes both physical harm and deep emotional pain, leaving lasting scars on victims. The prevalence and impact of sexual abuse in nursing homes are underscored by concerning statistics that reveal the extent of this distressing issue:

  • The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that approximately 1 in 10 nursing home residents experience some form of sexual abuse, although this figure may be higher due to underreporting.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only about 30% of nursing home sexual abuse cases are reported to the authorities.
  • 94% of nursing home sexual assault victims are women.
  • 34% of nursing home victims are over the age of 80 years old.

Financial Exploitation in Nursing Homes

Financial exploitation in nursing home residents is a serious breach of trust, where vulnerable individuals suffer various forms of financial abuse from those in positions of power. This abuse can include theft, coercion, and fraud, with abusers taking advantage of their access to residents’ money and assets. Whether it’s misusing credit cards or tampering with legal documents, these actions not only lead to financial losses but also threaten the independence and safety of elderly residents. Preventing and detecting financial exploitation in nursing homes requires careful monitoring, strong oversight, and legal protections to ensure residents’ financial security and uphold their dignity. Staggering statistics of financial exploitation in nursing homes include: 

  • Financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, comprising approximately 60% of all reported cases.
  • Approximately 1 in 20 nursing home residents experience financial exploitation each year.
  • Older adults living in nursing homes are at a higher risk of financial exploitation compared to those in other settings due to their dependence on caregivers and staff for daily activities and financial management.

Neglect of Basic Needs Statistics in Nursing Homes

Neglect in nursing homes is a serious and often overlooked issue where residents fail to receive the necessary care and attention they need. This can include insufficient medical care, poor hygiene, inadequate nutrition, and lack of social interaction. Such neglect can lead to severe physical and emotional harm, exacerbating health problems and diminishing the quality of life for elderly residents. Addressing neglect requires stringent oversight, adequate staffing, and a commitment to maintaining high standards of care to ensure that all residents live in a safe and supportive environment.

  • A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that nearly 1 in 3 nursing homes in the United States has been cited for neglect that had the potential to cause harm.
  • The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) reports that more than 95% of nursing home residents have witnessed or experienced neglect at some point during their stay.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 emergency room visits by nursing home residents were found to be due to potentially preventable conditions related to neglect.

Nursing Home Residents Risk Elder Abandonment

Elder abandonment in nursing home residents is a severe form of neglect where family members or caregivers desert elderly individuals, leaving them without necessary care and support. This abandonment can lead to severe physical and emotional distress, as abandoned residents may be left without basic needs, medical attention, or social interaction. The isolation and lack of care can exacerbate existing health conditions and significantly reduce their quality of life. Addressing elder abandonment requires strict regulations, comprehensive support systems, and community awareness to ensure that all elderly individuals receive the care and dignity they deserve. 

  • Elder abandonment accounts for about 20% of reported elder abuse cases.
  • 12%  of nursing home staff admitted to neglecting residents.

Why are Nursing Home Residents at Risk?


Inadequate staffing in nursing homes can make it hard for caregivers to meet residents’ needs. This can lead to rushed care, missed tasks, and less attention to what residents require. As a result, residents might be at higher risk of abuse and neglect because caregivers may not notice signs of mistreatment or help when needed. Also, understaffing can make caregivers feel stressed and burned out, which might make them more likely to act abusively or neglectfully. It’s crucial to fix staffing problems in nursing homes to keep residents safe and cared for properly. 

Staffing challenges can contribute to concerning statistics such as:

  • 94% of nursing homes are understaffed.
  • Understaffing in nursing homes is associated with increased rates of medication errors, resident falls, and urinary tract infections. 

Nursing Home Staff Does Not Receive Proper Training

Often, nursing home staff do not get proper training, which can lead to serious consequences, including death. Without enough training, staff may not have the skills needed to handle complex medical conditions, respond to emergencies, or care for residents with special needs like dementia or mobility issues. This lack of knowledge can cause serious mistakes with medications, improper use of medical equipment, or missing important health signs, all of which can be fatal. It’s crucial to ensure that all nursing home staff receive thorough and ongoing training to protect the health and lives of vulnerable residents.

  • According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, nearly 50% of nursing home staff reported that they did not receive sufficient training to properly care for residents with dementia.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that about 25% of nursing homes were cited for deficiencies related to inadequate staff training during inspections.


These statistics underscore the urgent need for action to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and ensure that nursing homes fulfill their mandate of providing safe, compassionate care. Addressing nursing home abuse requires a multifaceted approach. It involves implementing stricter regulations, improving staff training, increasing oversight, and fostering a culture of empathy and respect within care facilities. It is imperative that we come together to address the root causes of nursing home abuse and ensure that all individuals, regardless of age or ability, receive the care and respect they deserve. Only through concerted efforts can we create a future where nursing homes are truly places of safety, comfort, and compassion for our elderly population.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as providing legal advice or the creation of an attorney client relationship. Laws are updated frequently and change from state to state. If you desire legal advice, you can contact Michael Hill Trial Law at, send an email to, call (800) 659-2712 to begin an investigation, or contact another attorney.