Projected increases in the elderly population are expected to significantly increase the stress on family and professional caretakers. Stress, in the context of caregiving relationships, is a risk factor associated with increased prevalence of elder abuse in familial and institutional settings. As increasing numbers of older adults are moved from family caregiving to nursing home care settings, it becomes important to identify the pattern of elder abuse risk factors in nursing home facilities. An ecological model is proposed for better understanding the risk factors associated with elder abuse in nursing homes and the complex interaction of individual/person characteristics and contextual factors in institutional elder abuse. An ecological perspective to institutional elder abuse provides a framework for guiding and informing future research on the risk factors of nursing home abuse and, in turn, for the development of effective interventions and relevant social policies.