Canada’s senior population is rapidly growing. There are approximately 5.9 million Canadian seniors. As these numbers continue to grow, more elderly adults are placed in nursing care facilities.

Recently, CBC Marketplace compiled six years of data from Ontario’s long-term care facilities, revealing that staff-to-resident abuse has increased 148% from 2011 to 2016. On average, data revealed that six seniors at long-term care homes in Ontario are abused every day.

Older adults who are suffering from dementia are especially vulnerable to abuse and being taken advantage of by strangers.


Nursing home abuse refers to a specific intent to cause harm or risk of harm to a nursing home facility resident.

Nursing home neglect occurs when a nursing home or its staff fail to fulfill the obligations set by the government and the nursing home industry designed to keep its elderly residents safe.


Seniors, as they age, lose their ability to defend themselves and over time become more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Nursing home residents often do not report abuse due to shame, guilt or fear that the abuse may become worse. Sometimes victims simply are not capable of reporting the abuse. It is important that visitors of those living in nursing homes pay close attention to their loved ones when visiting the nursing home facility and give their loved ones the opportunity to reveal abuse or neglect.

Common physical signs of nursing home abuse and neglect may include:

  • Untreated bedsores;
  • Open wounds, cuts, bruises, or welts;
  • Torn clothing or broken personal items;
  • Bruises in a pattern that would suggest restraints;
  • Excessive and sudden weight loss;
  • Fleas, lice, or dirt on the resident or in the resident’s room;
  • Abnormally pale complexion;
  • Social withdrawal and depression;
  • Fecal or urine odor; and/or
  • Poor personal hygiene or other unattended health problems.


There are different types of elder abuse, which may include physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, financial, neglect, and abandonment.  Abuse rarely occurs as an isolated incident, and often more than one type of abuse can occur at the same time.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when any type of force or violence takes place against an elderly individual resulting in bodily harm, physical pain, injury or impairment. This type of abuse may include pushing, shaking, hitting, and the inappropriate use of drugs or confinement.

Psychological Abuse

One of the most common types of elder abuse is psychological or emotional abuse.  Although common, it is also the most difficult to detect as there is no physical evidence.  This type of abuse takes place when verbal or non-verbal actions cause mental anguish or distress as the result of threats, manipulation, intimidation or insults.  In some cases, the senior is treated as a child, ignored or even isolated from their family and friends.

The following are examples of psychological/emotional abuse:

  • Yelling and shouting;
  • Name-calling and ridiculing;
  • Embarrassing the senior in front of others;
  • Causing the senior to feel guilty or upset;
  • Giving the senior the silent treatment;
  • Restricting access to food, water or bathroom facilities; or
  • Taking away or hiding personal items.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse, ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, occurs when unwanted sexual contact takes place with anyone over the age of 60 and may effect seniors who are unable to provide consent or disapproval due to illness or cognitive impairments.

The following are signs or symptoms of sexual abuse:

  • Unexplained STDs or genital infections;
  • Bruises on breasts, inner thighs or genitals;
  • Difficulty walking or sitting;
  • Underwear that is torn or bloody;
  • Panic attacks or signs of post-traumatic stress disorder; or
  • Social or emotional withdrawal from others.


Failing to provide a senior with essential care or basic necessities such as food, water, medication, clothing or attention are all examples of neglect.

Neglect can be “active” when a caregiver deliberately withholds care and basic necessities or “passive” when a caregiver unintentionally fails to provide proper care due to ignorance or inexperience.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse takes place when there is an illegal or unauthorized use of an elderly person’s money, assets or property. This type of abuse may also occur when a senior is pressured or coerced to provide money or sign a document that he/she does not fully understand.


If you are looking to find the right nursing home for your loved one, here are a few recommendations to help you make the right decision.

  1. Visit the long-term care facility at different times of the day to ensure that there is enough staff prior to selecting a facility.
  2. Do your research. Check provincial inspection reports to see if the facility has had any infractions and talk to residents or others who have family members at the facility.
  3. After selecting a long-term care facility, visit often or hire a caregiver to stop by frequently to ensure that your family member is getting the care they deserve.
  4. Document any problems in writing and with photographs or video, where necessary.
  5. Always inform supervisors and corporate staff of any concerns.

At Cuming Gillespie Lawyers we are committed to helping you and your loved ones. If a member of your family has suffered serious injury or significant harm due to nursing home abuse or neglect, Cuming Gillespie Lawyers may be able to help you obtain financial compensation. Contact our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyers to learn what options are available at 403-571-0555 or online today.