Elder Abuse and Fraud / Opinion / Politics / Press Releases

Nursing Home Abuse Is On The Rise, says AMAC

abuse Elder Senior nursing homeFederal, state and local authorities must act; family members, too, need to get involved

WASHINGTON, DC – Elder abuse in nursing homes is on the rise again and senior advocate Dan Weber is calling for government intervention at the state, local and federal levels.

Between four and five million Americans are in nursing homes, the great majority of whom are seniors over the age of 65.  “And too many of them have been and continue to be victims of nursing home abuse,” according to Weber.

Who is president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].  “If it is determined that a family member needs care in a nursing home, the facility needs deep vetting, not just a cursory background check”

Weber says that it was recently revealed during hearings held by Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Committee on Finance that it may not be enough to rely on a nursing home’s good grades from the authorities when choosing a nursing home for a loved one.  He cites the testimony of a woman whose mother died as a result of neglect in a home that had what Grassley described as “the highest possible ranking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality of resident care.”

That revelation hit home for Senator Grassley who described the testimony at his hearing as “troubling.”  He promised additional investigations into nursing home abuse by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Government Accountability Office.  He said that as soon as those investigations are completed new hearings would take place.

Meanwhile, CMS announced that it was already in the process of updating the way it rates nursing homes.  CMS also issued new guidelines for “identifying and ultimately preventing” abuse or neglect cases.

Nursing home attorneys at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley in Athens, GA say that in addition to physical abuse a majority of residents experience depression.  And, they say that many patients too often are given the wrong medications.

AMAC’s Weber warns that the decision to admit a relative to a nursing home is made more difficult because the patient may object and because the need may a lot of time to act.  And, notes the National Council for Aging Care, “If your loved one can still make choices or discuss their wishes clearly, it is very important that you acknowledge their opinion and act accordingly.”

Weber says that the decision to should not be determined by an individual family member.  It’s a time when all family members close to the individual who is ill to be consulted, although it is always wise to consult his or her physician.

“But, in most cases it is family members who must make the ultimate decision to move the patient into a nursing home.  And, beyond that, it is up to family members to ensure that the facility they choose is the right one.  They need to do their homework to pick a facility that has a history of caring for its patients. And, once a loved one takes up residency in a home, family members should make regular, unscheduled visits to make sure their loved ones are not being mistreated.”

To facilitate the process of choosing and vetting a nursing home, there are a variety of sources on the Internet that can help you make the right decisions.  Medicare, for example, has put together The Nursing Home Checklist that provides a list of the questions you need to ask.


The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] [https://www.amac.us] with 1.7 million members, is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members.  We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.  Live long and make a difference by joining us today at https://amac.us/join-amac.

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3 years ago

I once worked in a nursing home as a clinical professional. I saw first-hand what the real problem seems to be.

1. Many senior residents living in a nursing home are there not by choice. Many of them are resentful that their family put them “in that awful place.” The same family that “never comes to visit.”

It’s “awful” because it isn’t “home.” So sometimes they rebel against the most well-meaning efforts to make them feel comfortable.

2. Many nursing home employees that commit this “abuse” are not trained to anticipate and deal with these rebellious actions, so they don’t understand it. They see themselves as a compassionate caregiver to the elderly – and usually they are.

But sometimes their workload overcomes their compassion and they lose their tempers.

This does not justify or excuse their actions, however. But it does amplify the need for proper training and education on the subject.

As the old adage says, “Knowledge is power.”

Terry W Anderson
3 years ago

As an Administrator with 22 years experience in running a Skilled Nursing Facility I am disappointed that just like AARP the only thing you can find of an industry that serves a vast number of our elderly is a negative story. Don’t search for the truth of long term care for Americans who need our services just go after the industry as a whole. Because of AARP’s stance on Obama care and the constant assault on the service I was called to at the state legislature in Louisiana I joined AMAC. This one sided view made me wonder now if your just another mouth piece for failed stay at home programs preceded by AARP. Is AMAC also in favor of turning those that can’t care for themselves out on the street just to feel good about yourself while leaving this at risk population to live in fear of their care givers?

3 years ago

This article was poorly written.

Silas Longshot
3 years ago

My Mom just passed a while ago, after months of going downhill, first at home, then after a fall or two winding up in hospital multiple times, in and out of various ‘nursing homes’ that were rated ‘good’, finally in a hospice facility where they kept her ‘comfortable’ in her final days. Seriously depressing places, I’m sure working there carried over to the people charged with caregiving. Now wife’s mom is in her final days, living with us with a long term form of cancer, but without much pain if any, but slowly wasting away. She thanks us often for keeping her ‘home’, and should she take a turn for the final days, home hospice will be the way we go, as with 2 of my wife’s siblings who died of cancer.

3 years ago

It is absolutely unacceptable; it breaks my heart to hear that those patience in some nursing homes are not treated with good caring people. I truly believe that those seniors in the nursing homes deserve love, respect and happiness, after all they do not have very much to go on. I really hope that their should be some type of organization(s) who can stop the abuse with strong restrictions on employees/employer to follow. May God bless the elderly people.

Anne Boughmann
3 years ago

My father was in Assisted Living, and now skilled care. The supposed rating system that is used is not a good indicator these days of the facility or staff itself. It needs to be the Residents and their families rating them. My father is in a very nice facility building wise, but the nurses and kitchen staff are another story. I believe my father is getting good care but when he tells his complaints I don’t know how real they are or if he is complaining because they don’t do it his way. He is wheel chair bound and they have to use a hoya lift to move him and he says they are too rough with him. He says they will put him in his recliner and he ends up there all afternoon till dinner time. They don’t come in and check on him, no fresh ice water. I tell him to press the call button, he says he does and they don’t come. Paying $8,000 per month just for the nursing home should result in excellent care, and having fresh ice water throughout the day, and call buttons being answered quickly should be top notch service. I am to the point of installing a camera in his room just so I can see how they are treating him, and how they speak to him, and how he responds to them. I agree with many comments that these facilities are not living up to what they think they are and too much money that is paid by these customers are not getting the service they are paying for, just medicore. There is a labor shortage for nurses, but when the School of Nursing limits the number of students per year, that is being self serving to keep wages high when more nurses are needed. The facilities themselves need give back their buildings so they can be maintained well, hire quality nursing staff, and provide an atmosphere of their clients are their rock stars and need to be treated well. And for Pete’s sake SMILE… Too many walk around disgruntled….

I did disagree with this article with respect to all family members making the decisions. Not all families are cohesive and from experience it should be the POA making the decisions. My husbands father did not want his other 2 children making the decisions for him, he wanted my husband to. If it had been as the article was written, nothing would have been accomplished and dad would have most likely have been where he did not want to be.

3 years ago

My mother is at a local Assisted Living which we she moved in was rated above normal. mgmt. changed and it has fallen way below par now. I called in the state and they did nothing. Now residents families are getting cameras installed to record the abuse. broken arms, broken pelvis, broken legs, My mother’s bruised and bleeding arm from wrist to elbow. I have a picture of it. the DON does nothing she hides all incidents. no recording of any.
she is lazy and hires family. One family now has hospice due to the treatment of the mother. Diapers on incontinent residents are to be checked and changed every 2 hours per the state. HA. you can come off the elevator at times and you smell urine. I can give a low down of this place. I have kept notes.

3 years ago

I picked a “better” graded nursing home for my mom to get some therapy. She was only supposed to be there for awhile, but ended up nearly being admitted full time after a couple relapses that included two hospital stays. I visited her 3 times a week, and my brother would go there another 3. For all the grading of this place, I could see she was not being looked after properly. Being weak from hospitalization prior to first going there, they would haul her out of the bed like a sack of potatoes. I complained that she needed a couple days to regain her strength and not to DRAG her out of bed. After she got a little better, they quit helping her out of bed entirely! She’d lay there most of the day (she was not very ambulatory anyway). She had a draining sore on her leg that I took care of at home prior to going into the nursing home. They let it drain and DRY into the bed blankets, which stuck to her leg. There were many other things that went on as well, but in the end I decided I’d rather take care of her myself at home than to leave her there. Had she been admitted they would have cleaned out her savings account in a matter of weeks, and then kept her “alive” enough to feed their money coffers with her Medicare/Medicaid. I knew we could nickle and dime her account for a good year or two by looking after her ourselves. But be aware, it is NOT easy, we got frustrated at times too. She had a hospital bed and a lift. We had no bathroom on the main level so we had to shower her in a kiddy pool. Looking for a safe home health care aid can be dicey as well. Be VERY careful. One minority aide on the first interview came out with “my son was murdered, shot to death.” What?! Turns out her OTHER son was a convicted burglar. Her background wasn’t stellar either. We ended up with an African immigrant who was worth her weight in gold (whom we had found and employed many months prior to mom having to go to the nursing home for the therapy). Mom didn’t last much longer after coming home, but at least she was away from that place. I hope to never end up in a nursing home (I don’t have kids). My dad also passed away at home years earlier, and his one insistence was that we not take him to a nursing home. He needed a lot of care as well, and it was hard, but we gladly honored his request.

3 years ago

The above photo should accurately reflect who are the culprits in most cases and it’s Not white female nurses. Have a backbone and portray it realistically instead of adopting the PC protocol and making whites to always appear as the perpetrators of abuse, when in fact it’s seldom is the case in this instance. My mom spent 6 months in a higher end facility, NONE of the caretakers were white and nearly all had foreign accents.

Monique Parker
3 years ago

Some daycare centers for children are now installing cameras….they should also do that in nursing homes. I realize that there should be a minimum of privacy but the elderly already lose all their privacy when they enter nursing homes.
I pray everyday that the Lord will take me before I get too old. Heaven is a FAR BETTER place !!! .?

Janis Allison
3 years ago
Reply to  Monique Parker

Every Long Term Care facility I’ve worked in have had cameras. And I know of 2 actual abuse cases. Cameras don’t stop anything. Facilities that teach the Golden Rule and have their staff put themselves in the residents (and families) shoes are more successful in that aspect. Every facility should routinely put staff through sensitivity training as well. It should be required. And staff should be reminded often that they too shall grow old or may be in need of help someday.

3 years ago

When we had to put Mama in a Nursing Home the 4 of us children took turns being with her all day 7 days a week, except for breakfast. It was not easy, but what she did for us was not easy either and she deserved our devoted attention and care. Two of us were working full time and took the evening and weekend to be with Mama. Nursing Home workers are not always to blame because of the volume of care they need to give. Caring for the elderly can be as demanding as caring for an infant. Now I will admit that some personnel are not interested in caring for people, they just want the paycheck so it is important that you choose a good home, but also the family needs to be there daily to help and make sure their loved one is receiving proper attention and care.

When we had to put my Mother-in-Law into a home, I was the only one that went to stay with Mama every day for several hours to let her know we still loved and cared for her. I had to rely on the Nursing Home a lot because I was the only one, but by my daily visits they knew we were watching her care.

Susan Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Marlopi

You nailed it. The family must be involved. It is tough caring for one elderly person, imagine what the employees at nursing homes go through on a daily basis…plus they are under the gun time wise to get their work done. I work for a senior care agency & taking care of just one senior can be extremely demanding & requires patience. My hands are full making sure they don’t fall, they don’t wander off, they eat, etc. etc. I can not imagine working at a care facility w/o being incredibly exhausted on a daily basis. On top of this —many nursing home residents are not paying the full price…I will stop at this. I see both sides of this story.

Greg Russell
3 years ago

How sad that the most vulnerable in our society are left to be abused, or worse. Can it be any surprise that when we show so little value for human life the way we butcher infants in the womb, that we have so little concern for human life, and that quality of life, of our elderly? Add to that, the entitlement attitude of too many today, the fact that so many are drug and alcohol dependent, and just the general callousness and apathy of the culture, and it`s a volatile mix. We are indeed in the days “as of Noah”, the end times. All I know to say is: “Come quickly Lord Jesus”.

'grandma' Jeanne
3 years ago

Great article…I hope next time there will be more definitive information on NYS nursing homes.

Cheryl Pokorny
3 years ago

I work in a nursing home with a fabulous reputation, but I can see where neglect and abuse could happen. Nurses and aides are in high demand! I believe all nursing homes are under staffed, some more than others. Many of them work double shifts.several days a week. They have several residents they are each taking care of some needing full assistance. I would think some of them are getting very tired and easily loose patience. How can the facilities fix that? I’m not sure.

3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Pokorny

I think too many nursing homes are profit centers for corporations or individual owners. They care much more for their profits than the people in the facilities (both residents and employees). They hire as few as they can of the cheapest labor possible and provide as little training as is legal. The monthly charges to the residents are outrageous with very little to show for it at the facility. Government intervention (as much as I hate it) may be required to set reasonable wages for employees, training requirements, resident to employee ratios, etc. Clearly the current system is not working for too many facilities.

Mary W
3 years ago
Reply to  Fixer48

All the long-term care / full nursing facilities in my area that take Medicaid (for my Mom) are for profit.

3 years ago

Although this article makes excellent points, it should have had better proofreading. Many words are left out and there are grammatical errors. AMAC should look into this.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jenny

I do agree with the grammar problems in this article. I had to try to figure out the meanings of several sentences. There were others that I never did figure out. I stopped reading at one point to see who had written this article. I was thinking it must have been written by someone other than AMAC staff or by a “guest” person as a persona experience of some kind.

The article was, sadly, right on mark Millions were just spent by the Govt. on veterans. Where are the millions that should also be spent on our senior citizens? Save their dignity.

3 years ago

The choice of a nursing home made by family members is not always a choice. Sometimes it is a financial matter. If there are limited funds,the choice is made by the family’s pocketbook; and that can mean no choice at all.

3 years ago

An increase in nursing home abuse is not surprising in a society where abortion up to an including a child that is born alive is condoned. This type of attitude cheapens the value of all human life, so if a ‘new’ life is viewed as expendable then an ‘old’ life will eventually be viewed the same way (think ‘Logan’s Run”).

3 years ago

There are degrees of incapacity. My mother who is suffering from dementia can’t remember most things short term, and is losing her long term memories as well. We visit every day and have lunch or dinner with her. My wife helps with laundry and mom’s medications, which we keep locked in a safe as she is no longer able to handle that responsibility. Right now, there are outside services whose office are in the facility we hire to provide the increasing levels of care for mom, including showers, medications when we are gone, etc. The facility where she resides is an independent living facility, and so as long as mom doesn’t try to leave and wonder off and is not a danger to herself, we will keep her there. We have identified more restrictive facilities as future options should memory care and more rigorous controls be necessary, but right now, we want her daily life to be as pleasant as possible and as independent as possible so long as she is capable. We are quite close to her current facility, but the longer more “intrusive” facilities are further away and will make visiting more difficult. As I said, we are there every day and are generally only gone 1-2 weeks out of the year and have back up. I am over 65 myself and know that I’d want this kind of care should the time come. Our youngest son graduates in May, so we are considering moving mom here and hiring in house help or identifying some adult day care as another family member does with her mom. My main point is that there are many good facilities that provide different levels of care. We are solidly middle class and not wealthy (by US standards). I do think it is our responsibility to take care of our parents and senior family members in the best fashion we can.

3 years ago

Vetting is fine, but that along with meeting with the front person is akin to having faith that your salad was prepared in ways that wouldn’t gross you out. Some realities: there is no substitute for constant vigilance and visitation. Even then, the family member will, with nearly metaphysical certainty, be sitting in soiled diapers for far too long. The above fact often leads to utis which can lead to delerium that can mimic dementia or pyschosis. Staff will steal any and everything, starting with jewelry and phones, but often including underwear. Facilities are highly motivated to drug residents with sleep aids or anti depressants in order to zone them out and make them more manageable. Any person simply dumped in such a place is in for a very rough time if their mind is intact. Ive found that the best concept going is the converted house in a residential area. Residents to staff ratio is favorable. Still, the only way to even partially ensure proper care is the expenditure of time and trouble by family members. Staff must be aware at all times that they’re being watched.

Dan W.
3 years ago
Reply to  Morbious

Agree that frequent visits at random times are the best vigilance.

Our family was “lucky” in a way. After my Mom was transferred from assisted living to a memory wing in a nursing home, my Dad was still able to visit her frequently right up until two weeks before his death. Of greater significance, my sister lived nearby and was also visiting Mom frequently as well as supervising her daily care and any needed medical treatment.

Ann Meredith Silva
3 years ago
Reply to  Morbious

I fully agree with you. My in-laws were in foster care and received excellent care. My mother was in a nursing home and the care was terrible. I complained all the time. imagine a 80 year old woman being bathed by a young man. That was a so embarrassing to do that to a woman that was used to her privacy. I had to complain about that too!

S. Linda Jensen
3 years ago

My mother was a victim in a nursing home in Oklahoma. Poor quality of life, horrible food, depressing , and even dangerous lack of maintenance. Staff was as poor as I have ever seen. Ripe for abuse, lazy, not well supervised or trained. Patients were over medicated under served, and treated like dirt. The owners live large, own several nursing homes in the state. Drive fancy high dollar vehicles, live in large expensive homes, while the walls, floors and ceilings crumble all over the place around the residents. My mother was paralyzed, unable to move with out help. They would see the call light and wait for over an hour to check on her, the room was only a few steps from the nursing station. It is a constant battle. I and my brother called them on the carpet many times. They have been turned in many times for their care services, and other violations. My mother died, but those still in that place are held hostage to poor care and no place to go.

3 years ago

Were there no other options? What did the authorities do? I would have tried to find another facility. Also, that is why being there every day or as many days randomly as possible. If the facility was culpable in any way, a law suit might be appropriate.

3 years ago

Did you report the nursing home to the state ombudsman assigned to protect the elderly in nursing homes? What about the state’s health commisioner? The police for elderly abuse?

Did you try to find an alternative nursing home for your mother after your repeated discussions with the nurssing home failed to improve things?

What you are describing is a nursing home that should have been shut down for countless violations. Many of the things you describe would have been noticed when you first toured the place, before placing your mother there. Did the nursing home not allow you to tour the entire facility befotehand?

Sorry for your loss. Nursing homes like the one you describe need should be shut down and would be, if enough children of the elderly residents lodged formal complaints against them with the state.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x