Shocking Nursing Home Abuse Statistics 

By Somin Parate11 December 2020

Abuse of the elderly is on the rise. 

But why? 

Who would want to abuse our society’s most vulnerable members? 

Well, it may actually be their vulnerability that leads to such high cases of abuse. 

The extreme rise in cases over the last 10 years may also coincide with the extreme growth in the elderly population due to the “baby boomer” generation. 

Let’s break it down by the numbers and take a look at some of the more shocking statistics surrounding elder abuse in nursing homes…

How common is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is far too common. Even one case of abuse against the elderly is one too many, and for many people, difficult to even fathom. 

Unfortunately, there are thousands of reported cases of elder abuse in nursing homes each year in the united states alone. 

So, how common is elder abuse?

  • Over 5 Million elders are abused each year.
  • National surveys estimate this number could be much higher, as only 1 in 25 cases is properly reported.
  • An estimated 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have or will experience some form of elder abuse in their lifetime. 
  • 25% of nursing home residents have experienced some kind of abuse
  • A national survey of nursing home staff members reported that nearly 40% of nursing home staff members witnessed at least 1 incident of abuse of a resident in the previous year.
  • In that same study, 40% of staff members admitted to psychologically abusing their patients and 10% admitted to causing physical harm to a resident. 

Elder abuse statistics

Multiple Variations of Nursing Home Abuse 

As we have explored in previous posts, there are multiple types of elder abuse. 

The six major categories of nursing home abuse are: 

  1. Physical Abuse
  2. Sexual Abuse
  3. Emotional or Psychological Abuse
  4. Neglect
  5. Abandonment
  6. Financial abuse

Let’s take a look at how common each type of abuse on the elderly actually is…

Abuse Cases by the Numbers 

  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse 11.6%
  • Financial abuse or exploitation 6.8%
  • Sexual abuse 6.8%
  • Neglect 4.2%
  • Abandonment 3.1%
  • Physical abuse 2.6%

Emotional or psychological abuse is by far the most common kind of abuse against the elderly. 

This is also one of the most difficult to identify, and the most difficult to prove. Which makes this statistic even more terrifying. 

What are the main causes of nursing home abuse?

While there are certainly no excuses for abuse, especially against the elderly, there are many underlying causes that tend to present higher cases of abuse in nursing homes. 

Understaffing and inadequate facilities are some of the leading causes of abuse in nursing homes. 

  • 90% of nursing homes in the united states are understaffed 
  • An average nurse’s aide may have up to 30 residents under their care
  • The recommended ratio of nurse to patient is 1:3, while the average ratio is closer to 1:15.
  • Cases of abuse by other residents are actually more common than abuse by staff members – this is also caused by understaffing and inadequate resources. 

How many cases of nursing home abuse are actually reported?

As shocking as some of these abuse statistics maybe, even more shocking is the fact that not all nursing home abuse cases are reported…

In fact, one study reported that only 1 in 25 nursing home abuse cases are ever formally reported. 

That means that the actual number of cases is astronomically higher than originally thought. 

What makes the elderly so vulnerable? 

While we never want to justify abuse, it’s important to understand WHY abuse happens. 

Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, or socio-economic status. 


However, certain populations are more susceptible to abuse. 

The elderly population, specifically in nursing homes happen to fit into that vulnerable category for a number of reasons: 

  1. Cognitive Illness: Elderly residents with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia may be more susceptible because they require more work, more patience, and can sometimes be discredited when complaining of mistreatment. 
  2. Physical strength: Many abusers seek control and power. The elderly population tends to lack the physical strength it takes to fend off a potential abuser, which makes them an easy target. 
  3. Access to wealth: Financial abuse is unfortunately extremely prevalent in nursing homes. Residents with a higher than average financial status can quickly become targets of abuse. 

How many nursing homes are there in the united states?

The most recent report (2020) from the CDC estimates that there are 15,600 nursing homes in the United States with 1.7 million licensed beds, occupied by 1.4 million patients.

Contact An Elder Abuse Attorney

The above cases may have made headlines, but a sad truth is that many cases of nursing home abuse go unreported.

According to several studies, only 1 in every 25 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to authorities. Many elders are afraid to speak out against their abusers.

Don’t ever be afraid to speak out against abuse.

If you or a loved one have suffered from abuse or neglect in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or a similar establishment, let your voice be heard.

You may be eligible for financial compensation.

We will put you in contact with attorneys who specialize in nursing home abuse cases. They will fight to the very end to ensure you are compensated for the damages you’ve suffered.

Please call us at (855) 344-1017, or submit your case here. The consultation is 100% free, and there are no fees unless you win your case.