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What Is Social Isolation of Nursing Home Residents?

isolated_seniorMany elderly people become more isolated due to health, mobility, and memory problems.  Family members may make the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home to ensure they receive needed care and perhaps to encourage sufficient social interaction with staff members and other residents. However, some nursing home staff may engage in nursing home abuse and neglect by isolating residents.

Ways Nursing Home Residents May Be Isolated

This type of abuse may be hard to recognize, but it's important to stop because it can cause serious emotional problems, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, isolation can compound health problems and increase the risk of falls.

Nursing home staff may isolate residents in the following ways:

  • Intentionally preventing a resident from communicating with family members either by telephone or in person
  • Attempting to stop someone from consulting with his or her physician, nurses, police officers, clergy, and other professionals
  • Confining someone to his or her room, prohibiting socialization with other residents, or keeping him or her in less-populated areas
  • Using physical restraints to restrain a resident as a convenience for nursing home staff


Nursing home staff may engage in this type of abuse for a number of reasons. The facility may be understaffed— often a common problem. Employees may leave residents unattended for long periods of time or use isolation to manage more difficult residents, such as those who suffer from dementia. Another reason a resident could be isolated is to hide the evidence of other types of abuse, such as physical abuse or sexual abuse. Some employees also use isolation as a form of punishment or threat to control a resident’s behavior.

Other individuals may try to isolate themselves due to the challenges of moving into a new communal setting; dealing with the loss of a loved one, such as a spouse; or embarrassment over a physical or mental impairment. However, nursing home staff should be properly trained to deal with these situations and work to include these residents in communal activities.

If you suspect a family member is being socially isolated, it's up to you to advocate for him and stop the abuse. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn the steps to take and how Alan Morton can help obtain the compensation your loved one may deserve.