As the American population ages, so does our reliance on skilled nursing homes and caregivers. In many cases, it is not possible for an elder to live on his or her own, and the family may not be able to provide 24-hour care. This is where the professionals come in.

However, both abuse and neglect are rampant in many nursing homes and assisted care centers. It is important to understand both elder abuse and neglect and the difference between the two. According to Help Guide, abuse is an active endeavor on the part of a third party to cause harm, while neglect is failure to fulfill obligations.

What are examples of abuse?

Many examples of elder abuse are the same as spousal or child abuse. For instance, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse are the same no matter who is the recipient of the abuse. However, a form of physical abuse that is slightly more common in the elderly population is chemical restraint. This is when a nursing home uses drugs inappropriately to actively restrain an elderly person.

Another somewhat you need form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. This is when a third-party uses the financial resources of an elder without permission, or manipulates the elder into paying for services. It may also involve identity theft.

What is neglect?

While abuse is heinous, it is less common than neglect. Neglect is more common at underfunded and understaffed nursing homes or assisted living centers. It is possible for overworked staff members to neglect care of elders if they have too much to do in too little time. Common signs of neglect involve poor hygiene or being under-medicated.