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Detecting nursing home abuse: know the signs

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

elderly man sitting in his room looking outside at nursing home

As your loved ones age, ensuring their safety and well-being becomes a top priority. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a reality that occurs in nursing homes across the country. It is critical to remain vigilant so you can detect any signs of nursing home mistreatment or neglect.

Whether your loved one can or cannot communicate with you, it is vital for you to observe your family member and their surroundings when you visit them. Some signs that your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse include:

Physical signs

Physical abuse can manifest in many forms. Abuse can leave physical marks on the body, as well as bruises, cuts, burns or fractures. Be watchful for signs of excessive restraint, like rope marks on your loved one’s wrists or ankles.

Emotional signs

Abuse takes a psychological toll on a person. Keep an eye out for sudden changes in your loved one’s behavior, such as not wanting to participate in activities they used to enjoy, increased anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, social isolation or strained relationships with caregivers.

Poor personal hygiene

Neglect often accompanies abuse in nursing homes. Pay attention to whether your loved one is receiving adequate personal care, such as regular showers, assistance in going to the bathroom and any other help they need to keep up with their hygiene. Your loved one might also have one of four stages of a bedsore.


A common form of elder neglect and abuse is insufficient food intake and dehydration. Not eating enough or drinking enough water can lead to significant weight loss and deterioration of overall health conditions.

Monitor any noticeable changes in weight or signs of malnutrition, such as dry skin, brittle nails, pale complexion, cracked lips, and weakness or fatigue without an apparent reason.

Medication mismanagement

Improper administration of medication can be harmful and have serious consequences for your loved one.

Take note if there are discrepancies between prescribed medications and what the nursing home staff administered or if your loved one shows unusual reactions to medications.

Other signs

Make sure you are vigilant for other signs of nursing home abuse, such as unsanitary living conditions, financial exploitation or any other ways in which the nursing home or its staff could be taking advantage of your loved one.

Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect is vital to protect your loved ones from harm and ensure they receive proper care.

If you observe any concerning indicators mentioned above, take immediate action by documenting incidents, gathering as much evidence as you can and reporting concerns to facility management. Legal recourse is also available.

Remember that open communication with your loved one is key. Listen attentively to their concerns and validate their experiences while advocating for them as needed.