What is Elder Abuse?

People frequently ask me, “What exactly is elder abuse?” The phrase “elder abuse” simply means the physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of an older person. Every year, many thousands of older Americans are mistreated in their own homes, in elder care facilities, and in nursing homes. We see an increasing number of older people being abused and neglected in nursing homes, and many believe that the root of the problem is greed.

Let me explain.

A lot of nursing homes and elder care facilities are for-profit. That means that behind all of the niceties, their chief motive is to make as much money as they possibly can. There is nothing wrong with earning a profit, but some nursing homes take things too far. A lot of facilities are intentionally understaffed – to save costs and boost profits. The care of your loved family member is often left to poorly-trained, overworked, and under-paid nursing assistants (sometimes called CNAs). A lot of facilities make it a habit of operating with far less staff than is required by state law. Many facilities do not perform background checks on their new hires, so you don’t really know who is given the responsibility to take care of your loved one. The work is highly stressful, too, so burnout, lack of sympathy for the nursing home residents, negative job attitudes, and ultimately sometimes abuse can occur.

It’s scary, but it is preventable, too. Nursing homes do not have to let their facilities get beyond their control. A lot of these homes rake in unbelievable amounts of profits. It is when patient care suffers at the hands of profits that we are called upon to step in.


South Carolina elder abuse attorney Michael Jeffcoat can answer your questions if your loved one has been the victim of neglect or abuse inside an elder care facility or nursing home. To schedule a personal, confidential consultation, call (803) 808-9600.