How to Identify Nursing Home Abuse

Older adults in nursing homes are left to the care of clinicians and caregivers under the condition they are well taken care of. Unfortunately, some nursing homes neglect older adults in their care, leading to a deterioration in their health and poor quality of life. The risk of elder abuse in nursing homes is as high as it is if they lived at home. Knowing whether your loved one is being mistreated or financially exploited is crucial to ensuring they receive the proper care.

As a person ages, their caregivers may take advantage of their frailty or underlying medical conditions. Older adults with mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s or Dementia may suffer the brunt of nursing home abuse, given their inability to lucidly account for their experiences. However, one can observe signs of abuse from the appearance of their loved ones or living conditions.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is observable evidence that older adults are mistreated by their caregivers. Signs of physical abuse may include:

  • Broken bones, joint dislocations, or sprains that are unexplained
  • Bruising or scarring on the body
  • Rope marks on the wrists or around the ankles
  • Poor intake of prescribed medication
  • Caregivers who insist on being always present, including when you ask for a private moment with your loved one
  • Presence of bed sores
  • Loss of weight

Emotional Abuse

Caregivers can also be emotionally abusive to their patients. Some of the signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Behavioral changes in the older adult, like fidgeting or mumbling
  • Belittling or issuing threats to the patients by caregivers
  • Keeping the older adult from seeing their friends or socializing within the home

Sexual Abuse

Although rare, older adults can also be victims of sexual abuse. Some signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Your loved one may contract sexually transmitted illnesses or unexplained genital infections
  • Bruising or scaring around genitals or breasts
  • Bleeding through the vagina or anus


Neglect is a broader term that includes other behaviors that may not be noticeable in your loved one’s person or through their behavior. Signs of caregiver neglect include:

  • Leaving an older adult unattended in public
  • Providing living conditions that do not match the older adult’s needs
  • Failure to respond to caregiver needs like withholding food or medication
  • Leaving the older adult in dirty clothing or bedding

Financial Exploitation

Another form of abuse is financial exploitation. Given the complexity of financial systems, older adults are more prone to financial exploitation, especially in healthcare. Signs of financial exploitation are:

  • Radical changes in the older adult’s finances
  • Irregular withdrawals from older adult’s bank accounts
  • Missing money from their room
  • Additional names to the elder’s credit cards
  • Unexplained changes in controlling authorities like the power of attorney, will, or property titles

These signs are indicative of elder abuse and nursing home abuse. You should take the initiative of changing the caregivers or nursing home where your loved one resides if you notice these signs. Caregivers also face some risks while taking care of older adults. Some caregivers experience depression, lack of motivation or engagement because of a perceived low to no psychological rewards, and even stress. These factors affect their ability to care for the residents of nursing homes and can significantly limit their capacity to offer quality care. Before changing your loved one’s care plan, you should understand the caregiver’s struggles.

“If your loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect, you should contact an attorney today.” says Sean O’Neill of California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers.

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