Caregiver putting slippers on an elderly person in an institution

Institutional elder abuse is a problem that has been gaining attention in recent years.

This type of abuse occurs when an older person is mistreated or neglected while living in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or other institutional setting.

Older people are especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect because they may be isolated from their friends and family, have diminished physical or mental abilities, or be dependent on others for basic needs such as food and shelter.

Victims of institutional elder abuse need an elder abuse lawyer to help them protect their rights.

A lawyer can help victims file a claim against the institution where they were abused and can work to get them the compensation they deserve.

Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath is a law firm that specializes in elder abuse cases. If you or someone you know has been a victim of institutional elder abuse, please contact our office today for a free consultation with an experienced Florida elder abuse attorney.

We will do everything we can to help you get the justice you deserve.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is a pattern of deliberate actions that may cause harm or distress to an older person. It can take many forms and its effects on the victim may be short-term or long-term. Elder abuse may happen in a family home environment, in residential care facilities such as rest homes and hospitals, and the wider community. 

When elder abuse occurs  in a rest home or other residential setting, it is also known as “institutional elder abuse.” Elder abuse may be perpetrated by a family member, caregiver, or someone else known to the older person. It can happen once or repeatedly over time.

Sometimes elder abuse is very difficult to detect because of fear or shame on the part of the older person, who may have received threats from their abuser or who may be dependent on them for housing or financial means.

Types of Institutional Elder Abuse

There are many forms of elder abuse, including physical, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse. Often, they occur in combination with other forms of abuse. Knowing what constitutes elder abuse and neglect is important in identifying it and preventing it. 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when someone hurts an older person on purpose. It can be hitting, slapping, pinching, rough handling, or being intentionally careless when assisting them.

Emotional Abuse

Psychological abuse is a type of maltreatment that involves the use of words, gestures, or actions that cause emotional pain or distress. It can include verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and isolation.

Psychological abuse can be very damaging to an older person and can leave them feeling frightened, alone, and helpless. It can also lead to serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can involve any type of sexual contact or behavior that the older person does not want or consent to. This includes unwanted touching, kissing, oral sex, or intercourse. It can also include taking nude photographs or videos of an older person without their consent or making them watch pornography.

Sexual abuse is a particularly heinous form of elder abuse and can have serious impacts on the victim’s mental and physical health.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is when someone takes advantage of an older person’s money or assets without their consent. This can include stealing their money, property, or possessions; cashing their checks without permission; or refusing to give them enough money to meet their basic needs.

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, and elderly victims are often afraid or embarrassed to report it. It can have a long-term impact on an older person’s financial security and ability to age in place safely.


Neglect is the most common form of elder abuse. It can be when someone fails to meet their caregiving obligations or puts an older person at risk by not providing them with food, shelter, clothing, hygiene/health needs, and safety precautions.

Neglect is serious because it can result in illness or injury for the older person if they are not properly cared for. If the neglect is severe, it can have long-term effects on an older person’s physical and mental health.

Signs of Institutional Elder Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected, abused, or financially exploited by someone who works in a facility such as a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living center, there are some signs to look for.

  • Not receiving medications or medical treatment when needed.
  • Current physical condition does not match the level of care they are receiving. For example, if an older person is living in a dirty environment with soiled clothes and has unkempt hair and nails, it may be because someone isn’t giving them the assistance they need to shower or get dressed.
  • Sudden changes in their bank account or missing money.
  • They are very concerned about someone, or they become defensive when asked questions.
  • They don’t want to go to sleep at night and/or get out of bed during the day. They may even experience nightmares while sleeping if something is occurring that has caused serious trauma.

Contact an Elder Abuse Lawyer

If you have a loved one who is currently in a care facility and you suspect they are being abused, it is important to take action. Many clients ask,.”Are there civil or criminal penalties for elder abusers?” and need to know that there are. Elders are especially vulnerable to abuse, and those who abuse our elderly loved ones should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. 

You can start by looking for the signs we listed above, and then reach out to an elder abuse lawyer. They will be able to help you get your loved one the support they need, and may also be able to file a lawsuit against the institution. 

Don’t wait – contact an elder abuse lawyer today.

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