Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

When elder care goes wrong

We all like to think that when our beloved relatives reach their twilight years and require more care than we can provide, that we can help them by setting up a new residence for them in a retirement or nursing home. Many of the elderly are too scared to do this because of tales of rampant abuse. Was someone in your family abused? Learn more and talk to an attorney right here.

Once we’ve reached retirement age, it’s like we have finally, at long last, grabbed the brass ring. We made it. We deserve some peace and quiet, and gosh darn it, just leave the remote where we can reach it. All we want to do is relax. Is that too much to ask?

In some nursing homes, apparently it is.

Ideally, you should feel confident about the fact that a beloved family member lives in a nursing home. These are places that make their living on the fact that they take care of the elderly. They give them a place to spend their remaining years in quiet and comfort, knowing that they will have someone there at all times to help them if necessary.

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Unfortunately, exceptions to this rule exist, and medical negligence and other forms of abuse have been known to occur in some facilities. Exploring the various types of senior abuse and staying aware of the signs can help you to take action as soon as possible.

If you suspect that such unthinkable behavior is taking place, don't hesitate to contact a legal professional who can help you to resolve the matter effectively and efficiently. If you even have an inkling that something is awry, make sure to follow up on the matter – because imagine if you didn’t?

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Neglect or abandonment

The signs of neglect may not be immediately obvious, but you might detect them if you are aware of what they are. Look for the following when visiting your relative:

  • Does your loved one seem malnourished or dehydrated?

  • Are her clothes clean and does she appear well-kempt, or does she look like she hasn’t been bathed and changed in a while?

  • Does the room appear to have been cleaned recently? Are the trash cans empty or full?

  • Is there a health condition or injury that has been left untreated, such as bedsores or a wound that needs changing?

  • Has your relative fallen recently while staying at the facility? Falls are a constant threat to older adults and threaten their ability to remain independent. When falls happen under the care of a nursing home facility, they can become suspect.

  • Has your relative been allowed to engage in self-neglect?

Nursing home facilities must “establish and maintain an infection control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment in which residents reside...” If your loved one has been allowed to engage in self-neglect or has unexplained injuries, then the nursing home could also be held responsible for that.

Another form of abuse is abandonment; a facility that is responsible for your family member should never desert that individual. Many residents require assistance in the performance of everyday tasks such as eating, bathing and dressing, so any facility that allows a resident to go unassisted is engaging in neglect.

Enjuris tip: Watch for signs of elder abuse such as unwashed clothes, piled-up food trays or unexplained injuries. This can mean neglect or abandonment.

Psychological or emotional abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse can be just as harmful as any other kind of abuse. This can include name-calling by staff members, refusal to let the patient see friends or family, relinquishing certain privileges, and more.

Signs that your relative may be suffering from emotional or psychological abuse include:

  • Mental agitation
  • An uncommunicative demeanor
  • Behavioral cues usually associated with dementia, such as biting or rocking
  • Crying
  • Fear associated with certain staff members
  • Depression
  • Anger or resentment
Enjuris tip: Watch for changes in your loved one’s mood and personality. Has he or she become distant? Is he reluctant to talk about certain things? If so, it might be time to bring in a qualified Adult Protective Services counselor.

Physical or sexual abuse

This is where it gets even darker. Physical and sexual abuse may be the easiest forms of abuse to detect. Signs of physical abuse to be aware of include:

  • Cuts
  • Puncture wounds
  • Rope marks
  • Lacerations
  • Welts
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Broken bones

If your loved one has suffered any of these, or even anything slightly innocuous that you believe could not have been achieved on a solo basis, physical abuse could be at the root of the problem. Broken glasses, black eyes, and bruises could also indicate physical abuse. Indications of sexual abuse may include bleeding in the anal or genital area, genital infections or disease, and torn clothing.

Always check receipts and bank statements for loved ones in a nursing home for fraudulent charges Tweet this

However, a lot of physical abuse can be achieved while hiding the evidence; some employees have become savvy at hitting others in ways that hide bruises and marks from visiting relatives. You will need to be in close contact with your loved one and on the lookout for any emotional changes that would indicate something horrific like this is happening.

Healthcare fraud or financial exploitation

Another way that your elder relative may be abused is via healthcare fraud or financial exploitation. Always check receipts and bank statements.


If you notice that your relative is being charged for medical equipment or services that seem inappropriate or unnecessary, healthcare fraud could be an underlying issue. Signs of financial fraud may include unexplained charges on a credit card bill or money missing from a bank account.

If you have noticed indications of elder abuse and suspect that members of a nursing home staff may be to blame, consulting a qualified legal professional is a wise strategy. Don't forget to discuss the nursing home environment with your family member; if your loved one describes any scenarios that may indicate abuse, you should take the matter seriously and get help. You may need to file a malpractice lawsuit in order to ensure that justice is properly served.

Still not finding what you need?
Check out our other articles on nursing home abuse.

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