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Nursing homes are meant to be a safe haven for elderly Americans, but they are far too often a place where residents are abused or unlawfully evicted.

Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Evictions

For many Americans, placing a loved one in a nursing home facility is a difficult decision.  Will they be well cared-for and safe there?  What will their quality of life be?  A new study may make this decision even more challenging, as a recent report from the Associated Press shows that nursing home patients who are seen as challenging are often evicted or targeted for abuse by staff.

Federal law allows nursing home patients to be discharged under certain circumstances, such as the facility closing, the resident’s failure to pay, or because the facility can no longer meet the person’s needs.  Advocates say that this last reason is often used as a way to evict difficult or troublesome patients, or those whose government insurance pays lower rates.

Difficult Residents?

Most elderly Americans who reside in nursing homes are there because they have needs that cannot be met at home.  This often includes significant medical challenges and conditions such as dementia that make it impossible for the residents to safely live on their own and take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, in some nursing homes, these “difficult patients” are often prime targets for abuse.  Elder abuse comes in many forms, from physical and sexual violence to emotional abuse and financial exploitation.  In situations where the patient is unable to speak or does not have a clear memory, it can be difficult to learn about this abuse and to address it appropriately. Elderly Americans with special needs, including dementia, are at a far increased risk of being abused by their caretakers.

Difficult patients may also be targeted for eviction, as nursing homes may want to move more “labor-intensive” patients out of their care to make room for patients that are easier. If a patient is evicted from his or her nursing home or long-term care facility, the family may be left in an incredibly difficult situation, trying to find appropriate care for their loved one in a short period of time.  In some cases, patients with difficult families — those who advocate on behalf of their loved one and demand proper treatment — may also be evicted.

Goal of Evictions

The question many have asked is why nursing homes evict patients from their care.  In many cases, the answer is a simple matter of finances.  Patients who require less direct attention may simply be more profitable than patients who require lots of care and attention.  In other cases, the report found, patients are evicted after their savings and private medical insurance runs out and they are switched to Medicaid.  Nursing homes can usually charge higher rates and make more profit on private medical insurance or direct billing as opposed to Medicaid.

This profit-based motive raises another aspect of nursing home evictions: they often have the largest impact on our neediest citizens.  Elderly people without means — with no private insurance and no savings — may be the most vulnerable to evictions and abuse.  The most frequent targets of evictions and discharges are the poor and those suffering from dementia.

Elder abuse is a serious problem in our country, and unlawful evictions from nursing home facilities are on the rise as well.  Complaints about unlawful discharges have risen by 57% since 2000.

If you or a loved one have suffered elder abuse at a nursing home or been unlawfully discharged from a facility, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home.  Nursing homes are required to follow strict rules when discharging or transferring patients, and if they failed to follow these laws, then you may be able to sue them for damages.  To speak to an experienced elder law attorney about elder abuse or unlawful evictions from a nursing home, contact PLBH today at (800) 435-7542 or  Our attorneys are well-versed in elder abuse law, and are fierce advocates for the rights of the elderly and disabled.