It is a sad reality that elder abuse can happen to anyone, including nursing home residents. Everyone hopes that the staff members will provide proper care and keep patients safe. But abuse in these institutions is far too common. The World Health Organization says that two in three staffers at long-term care facilities report committing abuse in the past year.

While there is always a potential for elder abuse, some circumstances make it more likely. Here are some common risk factors and causes.

Poor health

As people age, their health inevitably declines. The severity of physical and mental conditions can play a role in whether abuse occurs. A victim with dementia or a lack of mobility is more vulnerable to manipulation and coercion. 

Lack of social support

Some nursing home residents enjoy regular visits from family members and friends. Consistent social interaction can help prevent abuse from happening. When people constantly visit nursing homes, staff members have more of a reason to provide high standards of care. But a resident who has rare visitors or outside interactions is more likely to suffer exploitation or abuse. 

Inadequate staffing

Nursing homes have a duty to provide high-quality care to all residents. This requires enough staff members to cover everyone living there. Unfortunately, too many nursing homes have understaffing problems. This can lead to overworking, high turnover rates and poor training. Such components create an environment susceptible to abuse.

Gender

Sometimes, the victim’s gender is a risk factor. Elderly women are often at a higher risk of neglect, financial abuse and severe, persistent abuse. 

Mental disorders of the abuser

Anyone who has a professional duty to care for elderly patients must be of a sound mind. If a nurse or another staff member suffers from mental illness or has substance abuse problems, he or she is more likely to abuse nursing home residents.