Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

When a loved one has been abused or neglected, it is crucial to speak up. That may include bringing your concerns to the proper authorities and to a personal injury lawyer. The legal and medical team at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC, has an extensive network of resources, which includes our in-house medical experts, who work to prove negligence in cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect. Read on for more information about the warning signs of elder abuse in nursing homes. 

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Elder abuse—a form of nursing home abuse—is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as either a single or repeated act, or a lack of appropriate action, that results in harm caused to an elder person by a person or entity they trust. A trusted caretaker may include a family member or, in many cases, the nursing home facility to which family members have entrusted the care of their loved ones when they are unable to provide it directly. Unfortunately, the WHO reports staggering statistics around the seriousness and frequency of nursing home abuse:

  • Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older have experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.
  • 2 in 3 staff members at nursing homes and long-term care facilities report they have committed abuse in the past year.

Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences, a consequence made even more egregious by the fact that nursing homes are expected to be more qualified than the average person to provide qualified care with dignity and respect. The National Center on Elder Abuse defines the five types of abuse suffered by residents of nursing homes and other elder Americans: 

  1. Physical Abuse: Physical force or coercion that results in “bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment”—whether intentional or reckless. Acts of physical violence include hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning. Force-feeding and physical punishment are also forms of physical abuse. 
  2. Sexual Abuse: Sexual contact that is nonconsensual with an older adult, whether perpetrated through “force, threats, or the exploitation of authority.” Unwanted touching, sexual assault or battery, sexual harassment, and any sexual contact or interaction with elders who lack the capacity to give consent is a form of sexual abuse.
  3. Emotional or Psychological Abuse: The most commonly reported kind of elder abuse is the infliction of “anguish, pain, or distress” through either verbal or nonverbal actions. Emotional or psychological abuse can include insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, and harassment, as well as other forms of verbal assaults.
  4. Financial Abuse: Using an elder’s funds, property, or assets without permission or through coercion or deception. This might include deceiving an older person into signing a document, like a contract or will, or the improper use of conservatorship powers, guardianship rights, or power of attorney.
  5. Neglect: People who are entrusted to care for an elder are expected to carry out tasks that include “life necessities,” such as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, and personal safety. Not doing so may be a form of neglect.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes—either due to a lack of resources or a lack of oversight—fail to provide proper care for their residents. Sometimes, this is through intentional acts of bad behavior; other times, it is simply poor leadership that creates a system of reckless and negligent behavior.

What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Signs of nursing home abuse and neglect may be easy to miss at first, but even subtle signs can be indicators of severely abusive conditions at a nursing home. Different injuries and symptoms may appear in each nursing home abuse case, and some warning signs of nursing home abuse may be mistaken as “typical complaints.” However, knowing the signs of elder abuse can help everyone take notice when a pattern of concern develops:

  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Bruises, burns, and welts
  • Cuts, lacerations, and skin tears
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Dirty surroundings/clothes/linens
  • More frequent requests for visitors
  • Requests to leave the facility 
  • Fatigue, insomnia, or other sleep disorders
  • Head and dental injuries
  • Illness or infection
  • Genital infections or rashes
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Sudden or unexplained weight loss
  • Lowered confidence and self-worth
  • Onset of aggressive or withdrawn behavior
  • Misuse of medications or other substances
  • Changes to financial documents
  • Opening new credit cards or bank accounts
  • Strange transactions or charges

Other, seemingly unrelated concerns with the facility itself may indicate that the situation is ripe for abuse. If you consistently witness staffing deficits or hazards in the facility—messes, disrepair, or a general lack of organization, for example—it might be time to seek a legal consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. 

Why Hire Janet, Janet & Suggs for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases

Our team of lawyers and medical experts has over forty years of experience securing successful resolutions for a variety of personal injury cases. Our work on life-altering personal injury cases has resulted in historic justice for victims of medical malpractice, sexual assault, and other injuries. 

In a case against the University of Southern California, JJS and co-counsel achieved the largest known settlement in a United States sexual abuse case, well over $800 million. While the amount of compensation will vary depending on the circumstances of your case, our commitment to fighting for our clients will remain the same. Our experienced attorneys and network of expert witnesses will help you find your way through the complex process of your case to seek justice and fair compensation for your injuries.

However, our long history of record-breaking verdicts and settlements is just one indication of our continued success in getting justice for those who have been harmed. We have also been recognized by a variety of leading organizations, including Best Lawyers, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America, AV Preeminent ratings by Martindale-Hubbell, and as one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms. Many of our attorneys are also listed as Super Lawyers. These recognitions from leading organizations reflect our continued commitment to working toward securing our clients’ futures when they have been harmed by medical malpractice. JJS operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning we collect no fees unless we win your case. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.


 William R. “Topper” Cramer

Reviewed by:
William R. “Topper” Cramer, RN, MBA, MS, CCRN, CFRN, EMT-P
Legal Nurse Consultant | Nurse Paralegal

Topper has been involved in emergency, transport, and critical care medicine since 1978 when he became an EMT in high school. A United States Air Force veteran, he remains active as a pre-hospital RN/paramedic, certified flight nurse, and critical care nurse. In addition to his professional role as a nurse consultant/nurse paralegal, he is the Chief of Operations at Walkersville Volunteer Rescue in Frederick County, Maryland. READ FULL BIO

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