Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Nursing home abuse statistics show alarming trends in care for our elderly population. Learn more about abuse and how to protect your loved ones.
nursing home abuse statistics

If you suspect that a loved one or an elder to whom you provide care is experiencing nursing home abuse, you must report it. But how can you tell if what you have witnessed or experienced is nursing home abuse? In this collection of nursing home abuse statistics, you will learn how often it occurs, who is most affected, what it may look like, and more.

There are several challenges in researching elder abuse. Researchers use different types of data and definitions to compare nursing home abuse across cities, counties, and states. While any one source provides only a small glimpse into the issue, taken together this collection of nursing home abuse statistics can help you understand the bigger picture. 

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Currently, over 15% of the American population is 65 or older. Approximately 12% are 85 or older. Between 2010 and 2050, the United States is projected to experience rapid growth in its older population. By 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million.

nursing home abuse statistics

How Often Does Nursing Home Abuse Occur?

According to data from the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys (NANHA), nursing home abuse occurs at an alarming rate. Their estimates show the following:

  • Approximately 5 million elderly Americans suffer abuse each year.
  • 1 in 10 Americans over 60 report suffering some type of abuse.
  • A nationwide survey estimates the following:
    • 36% of nursing home staff members have witnessed at least one incident of abuse;
    • 10% of staff members admit physically abusing a resident at least once;
    • 40% of staff members admit to psychologically abusing a resident.

What are the Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse?

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are five primary types of nursing home abuse:

  • Psychological Abuse – 11.6%
  • Financial Abuse – 6.8%
  • Neglect – 4.2%
  • Physical Abuse – 2.6%
  • Sexual Abuse – 6.8%

Nursing Home Abuse is Underreported

There is an identified trend in Adult Protective Services data that shows an increase in the rate of elder abuse reporting. However, it is still massively underreported. According to the NANHA, only 20% of abuse cases are ever reported.

Who Is Most at Risk of Nursing Home Abuse?

There are a few factors that put nursing home residents at a higher risk for abuse. These include:

  • Dementia: A 2009 American Society on Aging study revealed that close to 50% of people with dementia experience some kind of abuse.
  • Antipsychotic Drugs: Residents who take antipsychotic drugs are more at risk of abuse or neglect. These drugs impair residents, which can affect their ability to consent or remember events.
  • Disability: Women with disabilities are 33% more likely to suffer abuse than their counterparts.

Poverty and Lack of Social Supports Are Nursing Home Abuse Risk Factors

Low income and poverty are considered contextual or situational stressors that contribute to an elderly person’s risk of abuse. According to researchers, low social support also significantly increases the risk of virtually all forms of mistreatment.

The following factors have also been found to increase the risk of financial abuse.

  • Non-use of social services
  • Need for ADL assistance
  • Poor self-rated health
  • No spouse/partner
  • African-American race
  • Lower age

How to Help a Nursing Home Abuse Victim

A free consultation can help nursing home abuse victims get to safety, understand their legal rights, and pursue justice from those who commit these most heinous of offenses against society’s most vulnerable. You can help protect those at greatest risk of nursing home abuse by being an involved family member or caregiver. Be vigilant and report any suspected abuse immediately.


  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2001; 2010, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011; 2020 to 2050, U.S. Census Bureau, 2012a.
  • Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University, & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011). Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study (PDF).
  • National Center for Health Statistics. (2014). Nursing Home Care; National Center for Health Statistics (2014). Residential Care Communities.
  • Barrett, K. A., O’Day, B., Roche, A., & Carlson, B. L. (2009). Intimate partner violence, health status, and health care access among women with disabilities. Women’s Health Issues, 19(2), 94-100.
  • Eckert, L. & Sugar, N. (2008). Older victims of sexual assault: and underrecognized population. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 688e.1–7.
meagan cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to FNHA and our websites, including Birth Injury Guide and