What Are Some Recognizable Signs That Nursing Home Abuse Could Be Occurring?

by Aaron Gartlan

June 1, 2021 | Nursing Home Neglect

If your loved one in the nursing home shows signs of abuse, you should act immediately to ensure their safety and protect their legal rights. Call Gartlan Injury Law for more information.

Finding out that your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is not a rarity in the United States. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), seniors in long-term care facilities can be particularly vulnerable and often experience abuse and neglect.

If you suspect that something is amiss with your loved one, you should be aware of the recognizable signs that nursing home abuse could be occurring, such as physical injuries or behavioral changes. Let our legal team help you and your loved one pursue justice.

Contact Gartlan Injury Law now to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse describes inflicting intentional harm and pain. It can include shoving, kicking, slapping, burning, inappropriate restraint, and others. The signs of physical abuse can be relatively easy to detect compared to other types of abuse. They can include:

  • Injuries in the upper extremities
  • Extensive bruising
  • Signs of restraint
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Burns
  • Emotional changes such as being easily startled
  • Broken eyeglasses or other damage to personal items

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse and verbal abuse of the elderly involve various behaviors such as humiliation, name-calling, ignoring requests, and threatening a senior, among others.

Although not inflicting physical harm, emotional abuse can be highly damaging to a senior’s mental and physical health. However, verbal and emotional abuse can be difficult to detect unless you are present when it occurs.

Some signs that could indicate your loved one is suffering from emotional abuse include:

  • New depression or anxiety
  • Changes in character
  • Engaging in repetitive behaviors
  • Fear of caregivers
  • Refusing to take medication

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when a nursing home resident is forced into any kind of sexual activity or behavior. It can include unwanted nudity or taking photographs of a sexual nature. Recognizable signs that nursing home sex abuse could be occurring could include:

  • Contracting sexually transmitted diseases
  • Bruising and bleeding in the genital area
  • Torn or stained underwear
  • New problems with walking or sitting
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder

Signs of Financial Abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), financial abuse is one of the most commonly reported forms of elder abuse. Taking or misusing money, forcing an elderly individual to change their will, or overcharging for caregiving services can all be forms of financial abuse.

Signs that something could be amiss with your loved one’s finances could include:

  • Unexplained expenses
  • Not remembering what their money was spent on
  • Sudden change of estate planning documents
  • Unpaid bills
  • Missing checkbooks
  • Missing credit cards
  • Unexplained donations to charitable causes

Signs of Neglect

Neglecting the essential daily requirements such as failing to assist them with personal hygiene or helping them with eating and drinking is nursing home abuse. Failing to protect the senior from hazards on the property or failing to stop them from wandering and eloping can also constitute neglect.

Signs that your loved one may be suffering from general neglect can include:

  • Looking disheveled or unwashed
  • Wearing stained clothing
  • Rapid unexplained weight and hair loss
  • Untreated malnutrition and dehydration injuries
  • Bedsores
  • Frequent falls and accidents
  • Rooms and bathrooms lacking cleanliness and hygiene

What to Do if You Suspect Your Loved One Is Being Abused

If you witness any recognizable signs that nursing home abuse could be occurring, you should immediately protect your loved one. If there is immediate danger or your loved one is badly injured, you can call 911 or law enforcement for help.

Reporting Abuse and Neglect

In the first instance, you should inform nursing home staff and file a report with the nursing home administration. Next, you can find help by contacting agencies and government organizations in your state such as:

  • The adult protective network
  • The long-term care ombudsman
  • Your state’s office responsible for licensing nursing homes

Reporting nursing home abuse is important because it not only helps your loved one, but it potentially could help many other residents who could be in danger.

Gathering Evidence

Discovering and reporting your loved one’s mistreatment can be upsetting. You may not know what your next steps are for seeking justice. Since you may have legal recourse against a nursing home, a crucial stage can be collecting evidence of the abuse. Proof of negligence and your damages could include:

  • Medical reports stating physical injuries and mental changes of your loved one
  • Pictures showing injuries and signs of neglect
  • Eyewitness statements

Speaking with a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Once your loved one is safe, and you have reported the abuse, you should consider consulting with a nursing home abuse lawyer to find out about your loved one’s legal rights. If your loved one suffered injuries and damages, you could have a case against the nursing home and might be able to recover compensation such as:

  • Medical bills and future medical expenses
  • Costs for medical devices
  • Transportation expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

A nursing home is responsible for keeping your loved one free from harm and abuse. Long-term care facilities have to adhere to various state and federal laws and, among other responsibilities, must:

  • Hire responsibly
  • Train staff adequately
  • Have a sufficient number of employees on duty
  • Keep residents safe from abuse by staff, visitors, or contractors
  • Ensure residents’ individual needs are met

If a nursing home has failed your loved one, an attorney can help determine whether you have a case and could pursue compensation.

Gartlan Injury Law Can Help

Standing up to a nursing home can feel intimidating and challenging. The nursing home probably has a team of lawyers ready to fight your claim. However, you do not have to struggle on your own. We are here for you, and we are prepared to help you seek justice on behalf of your loved one. Contact us as soon as you detect recognizable signs that nursing home abuse could be occurring.

The seasoned legal team at Gartlan Injury Law know how to stand up to nursing homes and insurance companies. We are ready to fight aggressively for what you and your loved one need and deserve.

Call us now for a free and confidential case review.


Aaron Gartlan is a graduate of Troy University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law who focuses his practice exclusively on representing those injured by the wrongdoing of others. He is member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In addition to his legal practice, Aaron teaches Business Law as an adjunct instructor at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business and serves as a field artillery sergeant in the Alabama National Guard.

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