5 Signs of Abuse and Neglect in a Nursing Home

5 Signs of Abuse and Neglect in a Nursing Home

Nursing home abuse and neglect affect many families yearly.

In 2020, more than 15,000 neglect and abuse complaints were filed with the nursing home ombudspersons. These cases may include sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation, resident-on-resident physical/ sexual abuse, and gross neglect. Nursing home residents may be mistreated/ abused by therapists, certified nursing aides, physicians, administrators, other staff members, or fellow residents.

Abuse and neglect in nursing homes may result in emotional harm, severe physical injuries, and death. Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of nursing home mistreatment can help you take appropriate steps to ensure their safety and happiness. This article discusses five signs of abuse and neglect in a nursing home.

#1 – Falls and fractures

Falls are top among many nursing home abuse complaints. If a loved one residing in a nursing home has suffered a broken bone or fracture, the injury may occur due to a fall. This could be due to an assault or neglect. Falls can lead to broken bones, including ankle, hip, arm, and wrist fractures. When seniors suffer fractures of any form, they might experience a permanent decrease in quality of life and functional capabilities. Nursing home falls may also cause traumatic brain injury, which may, in severe cases, lead to permanent disability or death.

#2 -Bedsores

Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers, pressure sores, or pressures, happen when blood flow to the skin is cut off. Most seniors in nursing homes, particularly those with mobility issues or completely immobile, are at a higher bedsore risk because of the inability to reposition themselves. While not all bedsores can be prevented, others could also show neglect. If left untreated, bedsores can break a loved one’s skin, causing an open wound. Bedsores can dig deeper into the skin in the most severe cases, exposing bone and leading to life-threatening infection risks.

#3 – Malnutrition and dehydration

Studies indicate that roughly 20% of nursing home residents have experienced some degree of malnutrition. While this may be associated with cognitive impairment, depression, swallowing difficulty, and functional impairment, it could also be a sign of neglect or abuse by the administrators and nursing home staff. This may be due to limited food alternatives, basic oversight, or low staffing levels. Malnutrition and dehydration compromise a victim’s immune system and increase the risk of severe health complications, like electrolyte imbalance, urinary tract infection, renal failure, weight loss, muscle weakness, bedsores, falls, and more.

#4 – Unexplained physical injuries

Physical injuries in nursing homes may be due to physical abuse, the application of force that leads to physical pain, impairment, or bodily harm. A loved one could be experiencing physical abuse if they have inadequately explained or unexplained injuries, including bruises, black eyes, cuts, dislocations, broken bones, burns, and internal bleeding/ injuries. They may also have physical restraining signs like rope marks. Broken eyeglasses or hearing aids could be a physical abuse symptom.

#5 – Money problems

Financial abuse in nursing homes may result in the victim’s inability to cater to their bills. It involves unauthorized, improper, or illegal use of a senior’s money, belongings, assets, property, or benefits. An elderly may be undergoing financial abuse if there are unexplained banking or bank account changes, unauthorized withdrawals using ATM cards, unpaid bills despite sufficient funds, and more.


A senior may be abused or neglected in a nursing home. Knowing how to identify nursing home abuse and neglect can help determine if a loved one is well cared for and happy.

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