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The Impact of COVID-19 on Nursing Home Abuse

“Staggering” reports reveal COVID-19’s horrific impact on nursing home abuse

When we trust a team of experts to care for our loved ones, we expect kindness and competency. However, nursing home abuse–a form of elder abuse that occurs in long-term healthcare facilities–is on the rise. Nursing home abuse may take many forms ranging from physical to financial abuse. Many families already know what it is like to spot signs of neglect while visiting a loved one in a nursing home. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic makes these problems worse. Visitors cannot visit. Problems slip through the cracks. In many instances, the seniors we love died as a result. Thus, in the past few months, the number of  class action and individual wrongful death lawsuits based on negligent elder care increased dramatically. To understand the risks and what it takes to keep your loved one safe, you need to understand the impact of COVID-19 on nursing home abuse.

To discuss your concerns about your family member’s care in a long-term healthcare facility or retirement community, call us today. A consultation with an award-winning nursing home abuse lawyer from the nation’s #1 personal injury law firm is always 100% free.

Understanding and identifying nursing home abuse before it’s too late

In order to fully understand how the coronavirus pandemic impacts elder abuse, you must first know what you are looking for. There is no one type of nursing home abuse and there is no one nursing home abuser. Instead, there are many different ways that seniors suffer abuse. Likewise, there are many different people who perpetuate that harm.

Types of abuse in long-term healthcare facilities

The Nursing Home Abuse Center identifies 5 main categories of mistreatment that the elderly frequently suffer.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse causes harm to the senior’s body. This can include hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, starving, punching, scratching, cutting, and other types of hurtful physical contact.

Signs to watch forbroken bones, bruises, scratches, cuts, scrapes, weight loss, bed sores, and other physically apparent signs.

Emotional abuse

The emotional abuse of elders causes psychological harm, which in turn may, but does not always, produce physical symptoms. Common types of emotional abuse include yelling, berating, confusing, mocking, intimidating, ignoring, chastising, scaring, and more.

Signs to watch for: crying, anxiety, depression, weight loss, weight gain, loss of hair, muteness, fearfulness, and other unexplained behavioral or physical changes.

Sexual abuse

Many family members do not like to think that anyone would sexually abuse their elderly loved ones. However, we know that many seniors suffer this upsetting type of abuse. Common types of sexual abuse include any forced or unwanted touching, groping, or intercourse.

Signs to watch for: Cuts, bruises, or breaks, especially if near sexual organs. In addition, the signs of physical and emotional abuse may also be signs of sexual abuse.

Financial exploitation

Depending on an individual senior’s capacity and finances, financial abuse can take many forms. These include using the nursing home resident’s finances to purchase goods, transfer assets or property, change legal documents, or make cash withdrawals.

Signs to watch for: Unexplained purchases (especially if it is something your loved one likely cannot or would not use), sudden changes to legal documents, transfer of assets, and unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts.


Neglect occurs when a senior is not properly cared for in a way that meets their needs. Forms of nursing home resident neglect include failures to feed, bathe, hydrate, clean, perform basic hygiene, administer medication, or seek medical care for injuries and ailments.

Signs to watch for: In addition to the signs of physical and emotional abuse, watch for the dirty appearance of your loved one’s hair, skin, nails, clothes, or room, bedsores, sudden medical changes, weight loss, and extreme anxiety or distress.

Who are the most common abusers of nursing home residents?

For most people, it is difficult to imagine that anyone would abuse the beloved elderly members of our family. However, these groups most commonly perpetuate nursing home abuse:

  • Healthcare facility care, administrative, and cleaning staff
  • Other nursing home residents
  • Doctors, nurses, and medical staff
  • Family members of residents

The rise of nursing home abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a “staggering” increase in instances of nursing home abuse. As a result, there are now more lawsuits than ever seeking justice for the harm to and deaths of many beloved seniors.

Why more seniors are suffering in nursing homes during COVID

Many factors combine to explain the alarming reports of elder abuse in long-term residential healthcare facilities.

Staffing problems

As many Americans know, the coronavirus pandemic hit nursing home residents harder than any other group. This fact holds across the country. When COVID-19 spread like wildfire through many healthcare facilities, many nursing home staff members were exposed and many got the virus. While these caretakers quarantined and/or recovered, many nursing homes were severely understaffed. With dwindling numbers of employees, many nursing home residents suffered neglect. Likewise, overworked staff members are more likely to make mistakes or cut corners.

Visitation policies

Most abused nursing home residents do not report their abuse to the government or the facility’s administration. Rather, the most common way that this harm is discovered is that family members or visitors spot signs of abuse and speak up. In the wake of COVID-19, many healthcare facilities implemented policies prohibiting visitors. These polices intend to keep both residents and their families safe by limiting potential exposures to the virus. However, one unintended side effect of these policies is that visitors no longer have an opportunity to check up on their loved ones and make sure that they are being cared for properly. As a result, there are few opportunities to spot, report, and stop elder abuse remotely.

Supplies shortages

Finally, supplies shortages may help explain the increase in nursing home abuse incidents during the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused delays in the manufacturing, shipping, delivery of various goods that residents depend on. If healthcare facilities cannot reliably get medications, PPE, sterile equipment, or basic goods, senior residents suffer.

Are you concerned that someone you love suffered abuse in their nursing home?

If you suspect your family member is being neglected or physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially abused in the retirement community where they reside, you need to speak up. Our nursing home abuse lawyers are here to listen and here to take action. Discuss your observations, concerns, and options with an award-winning personal injury lawyer from Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today. Call, text, message, or email us to schedule your free consultation.

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