How to Spot Nursing Home Abuse

Madeleine Jones
January 23, 2019

Nursing home abuse is an unfortunately common occurrence in the United States. Despite the fact that countless Americans rely on nursing homes and assisted living facilities to care for their elderly loved ones, many senior citizens suffer abuse and neglect in American nursing homes. It is vital for friends and family who visit their loved ones in nursing homes to stay vigilant for the signs of nursing home abuse and know what to do to stop it.

Types of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

Nursing home abuse can take several forms:

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, or any other aggressive physical contact with an elderly nursing home resident.
  • Emotional abuse can include manipulation, ridicule, isolation, or toying with an elderly person with a degenerative mental health condition like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Neglect can include failure to change soiled clothes and bedding, failure to provide clean drinking water and nutritious food, or failure to supervise high-risk patients.
  • Financial abuse occurs when a caregiver steals money or valuables from an elderly nursing home resident. Financial abuse can also include identity theft, such as an abuser signing up for credit cards or writing personal checks using an elderly person’s personal information.
  • Sexual abuse can include unwanted sexual advances, sexual touching, rape, sexual battery, or forcing an elderly person to view pornographic material.

Abusers may intimidate their victims and threaten them against speaking out about their abuse, and an elderly person in failing health likely will not have the strength or ability to fight back. It may be up to the victim’s family and friends to identify and address the signs of nursing home abuse.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

If you have an elderly loved one who resides in a nursing home, pay close attention to any warning signs of abuse. Some abusers will go very far out of their way to cover up their misdeeds, and it takes vigilance, persistence, and close attention to detail to positively identify elder abuse in many cases.

When an elderly loved one appears withdrawn or forlorn without explanation, or he or she appears nervous or distracted during a visit, investigate this issue and find out what is causing the disturbance. He or she may be scared to speak up for fear of reprisals from the abuser. Diminished mental health can also impede positively identifying abuse; unfortunately, abusers typically consider elderly nursing home residents with degenerative mental health conditions as easy targets who cannot speak up on their own behalf.

Other signs of neglect and abuse may be more apparent:

  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, or other wounds require immediate investigation. Ask for an incident report to ascertain how the injury occurred. If the nursing home does not provide one, consider this a major red flag.
  • Dirty bed linens and clothes may indicate that nursing home staff is not doing an adequate job keeping your loved one and his or her environment clean.
  • Bedsores are a common ailment among elderly bedridden individuals. As an individual remains in bed in the same position, the pressure can build in specific parts of the body and create pressure ulcers or bed sores. These injuries are preventable with regular care and repositioning. Read more on the 4 Dangers Of Bedsores.

Liability for Nursing Home Abuse

Depending on the nature of the abuse your loved one suffered, it’s possible for liability to fall to a specific individual caregiver, the nursing home or assisted living facility that employed the abuser, or the company that owns the nursing home and is responsible for hiring. If you notice any signs of neglect or abuse and confirm that your elderly loved one has suffered at the hands of negligent or abusive caregivers, remove him or her from the dangerous situation immediately and report the issue to the authorities.

After you have ensured the safety of your elderly loved one, contact a Las Vegas nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible to start building a case against the abuser. A lawsuit against a nursing home abuser could lead to compensation for any resulting medical expenses or a decline in your loved one’s overall health from mistreatment, pain and suffering, and other monetary damages.