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Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse: Recognizing and Reporting Signs

When it is necessary for a loved one to move into a nursing home, the family expects that the person will be treated with the highest levels of care and respect. Unfortunately, there are situations when nursing home abuse or neglect can occur, putting your loved one at risk.

Elderly people are at risk of abuse and neglect in many different places: at nursing homes, in their own homes, and in different types of care facilities. These people are in a vulnerable stage of life. Older people are frail and sometimes don’t have the ability to stand up for themselves. There are perpetrators who might take advantage of the situation. Too often, the abuse goes undetected and unreported.

Even seemingly small problems can result in serious consequences over time. The health and safety of your loved one matters! You need to protect them and know what to do if abuse or neglect happens.

The Difference Between Abuse and Neglect

Even though the terms “abuse” and “neglect” are often used as synonyms, there are differences between these two things.

  • Nursing Home Abuse:Actions that are intentionally caused to hurt another person fall in the category of abuse. This act of commission is willful and knowing of the perpetrator.
  • Nursing Home Neglect:On the other hand, neglect can occur without intention. Neglect is an act of omission, leading to harm because the victim failed to receive necessary care.

Abuse and neglect can occur individually or simultaneously, depending on the situation.

Watch for These Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

What are some signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect? Family members should be aware of these signs so they can identify any potential problems in the earliest stages.

The first sign of nursing home abuse is a change in the individual’s personality or behavior. You might notice that they are interacting with the family differently, withdrawing in social settings, or there is tension between the victim and the caregiver.

Physical Abuse

Look for symptoms of physical abuse, which might include:

  • Broken bones, joint dislocations, or other unexplained injuries
  • Bruises, cuts, or burns visible on the skin
  • Improper medication dosages and timing
  • Signs of restraint, such as rope marks
  • Broken medical accessories, such as eyeglasses

Emotional Abuse

Even if no signs of physical abuse are present, there is a possibility that the person might be a victim of emotional abuse. These signs include:

  • Moodiness or a sudden change in the individual’s personality
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Unusual behaviors, such as a change in communication patterns or the person displaying self-soothing actions (such as rocking back-and-forth or sucking their thumb)
  • An unexplained onset of depression, anxiety, or fear

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is another form that could be inflicted on nursing home residents. These signs include:

  • Unexplained genital infections or STDs
  • Bruising around the breasts or genitals
  • Underwear is torn, stained, or bloody
  • Anal or vaginal bleeding with no medical explanation


The signs of nursing home neglect might include:

  • A person being left alone and unable to care for themselves
  • An elderly person being abandoned in a public location
  • Lack of bathing and personal hygiene care
  • Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, including extreme temperatures, lack of running water, or other health hazards
  • Unsuitable clothing for the weather conditions
  • Soiled bedding or clothing
  • Bedsores on the skin because the person is not turned regularly
  • Unexplained dehydration, malnutrition, or weight loss

Financial Abuse

A perpetrator might exploit an elderly person for money. Signs of financial abuse might include:

  • Unexplained bank withdrawals or expenses on the person’s credit cards
  • Cash or valuable items are missing
  • Changes in life insurance policies, wills, or power of attorney
  • Transactions for subscriptions, goods, or services the person couldn’t have purchased on their own


What are the different types of nursing home abuse and neglect?

The different categories of nursing home abuse and neglect include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial abuse. Sometimes, multiple types of nursing home abuse and neglect can coincide.

What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?

If you suspect that you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, then it’s essential to file a report as soon as possible. Not only do you need to stop the abuse right away, but filing a report also reduces the likelihood of problems in the future. Additionally, compensation might be available through a personal injury lawsuit.

What resources are available for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect?

Different national and local organizations are working to protect victims and families from abuse and neglect. If you are looking for help and resources, the best thing you can do is hire an experienced attorney for assistance. They will be able to direct you to the best resources.

How can I prevent nursing home abuse and neglect?

Understanding the signs of neglect and abuse is important so that you can stop the problems in the earliest stages. Additionally, family involvement in the person’s care helps to reduce the likelihood of neglect or abuse. If a loved one is going into a nursing home, make sure to research the provider to ensure they have a history of safety and success.

When Is It Time to Call a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney?

If a loved one has been mistreated in a nursing home, then you might decide to pursue a lawsuit against the nursing home. This legal action not only provides the financial support you need to cover medical bills, but it also holds the nursing home accountable for the circumstances.

Moving forward with an abuse or neglect lawsuit is a way that you can get justice for the suffering that your loved one experienced. At the same time, the legal responsibility means that the facility will be exposed and needs to improve care standards for all residents.

The best way to consider your legal options is to consult with an experienced nursing home neglect attorney. You deserve to work with a team that has experience with these types of cases. Wormington & Bollinger is here to help. For more information about available services, contact us at your convenience to schedule a consultation.