All you need to know

Although abuse in a nursing home is sometimes difficult to detect, there are some specific warning signs you can look out for when visiting your elderly loved one. Signs of abuse in a nursing home include:

  • bruises
  • broken bones
  • scratches
  • Cups
  • Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Tears around the genital areas
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Changes to financial accounts, including unusual and unexplained cash withdrawals
  • Significant changes to the person’s will or other financial documents
  • Fraudulent signatures on financial documents
  • Unpaid bills
  • Withdrawal from activities they used to enjoy
  • Unusual changes in sleep or behavior
  • Increased or unreasonable fear or anxiety
  • Sudden onset of depression
  • Untreated bedsores
  • poor hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of medical aids, such as glasses, hearing aids, dentures, medications, or walkers

Any of these telltale signs could indicate that someone may be abusing your loved one. Know these signs to better protect your family member and stop any abuse that may occur.

Frequent slips and falls

Because seniors’ slips and falls can quickly lead to death, nursing home workers should monitor vulnerable residents at risk of falling. Specifically, people with cognitive problems or physical impairments are at high risk.

You may notice that your loved one has recently had frequent slips and falls. Falling often can be a sign of elder abuse or neglect.


Our body needs water to survive. Water gets rid of bodily wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. These processes maintain a regular body temperature, lubricate the joints and protect the tissues. Dehydration occurs when the body does not function properly due to a lack of water in the body.

Women need about 2.7 liters of water per day and men about 3.7 liters. Physical symptoms of dehydration include:

  • A sticky, dry mouth
  • To be thirsty
  • Dry or papery skin
  • Infrequent urination
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Delirium
  • rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Inability to sweat

Dehydration is a common problem among older people in many nursing homes, and it’s a sign of gross neglect. Nursing homes must ensure that residents receive plenty of water. When an older person becomes dehydrated, they may not be very thirsty and may not show any outward symptoms of lack of hydration. Chronic dehydration in the elderly can lead to seizures, brain swelling, kidney failure, and even comas.

Malnutrition, or insufficient nutrients in the body, is also a common sign of neglect among nursing home residents, with approximately 85% of nursing home residents suffering from this dangerous disease. Malnutrition can lead to weight loss, fatigue, weakness, yellowing of the skin, white nails and pressure sores.

The combination of dehydration and malnutrition in the elderly can be especially deadly. Between 1999 and 2002, approximately 1,400 nursing home patients died after suffering from both dehydration and malnutrition.

In one tragic case, a nursing home has reached a nearly $1 million settlement after a 91-year-old resident suffered from dehydration and malnutrition for three years. As a result, she lost a third of her body weight and eventually died. Illinois nursing regulators later closed the nursing home due to her injuries and death and other reported incidents of abuse and neglect.

broken bones

Broken bones and bruises are common signs of physical abuse in nursing homes. If a nursing home is taking good care of your loved one, they shouldn’t have any of these conditions.

Falls often cause fractures and are particularly dangerous for an elderly person. A fall can break the person’s hip, which can quickly lead to death. Nursing staff should take all necessary precautions to prevent falls in elderly residents.

Precautions should include ensuring that residents use walkers, canes or wheelchairs and that they receive assistance getting into and out of bed.


Bruises can result from falls, bumps, and more serious injuries. Older people tend to bruise more easily than younger people because their skin tissue is thinner and more delicate. Additionally, the use of blood thinners by some older adults may also increase the risk of bruising. Although bruises can occur in the elderly without any negligence, they can also be a sign of abuse, so it is important to pay close attention to apparent bruises on your elderly loved one, especially if they recur or appear on the wrists. or ankles, which could indicate improper use of restraints.

In 2017, a Chicago jury awarded $2.7 million to the estate of a 67-year-old man who died following a fall at a nursing home. The lawsuit alleged that a nurse at the nursing home should have helped the man walk. He was known to suffer from cognitive impairment, decreased safety awareness and a history of fainting. He fell in the doorway to his bedroom, suffering a fractured skull and two brain hemorrhages, and died about four months later.

Incorrect medication

If your elderly loved one has been given the wrong medication or lacks needed medication, it could be a sign of abuse. If nothing else, it shows that the nursing home did not properly train its nursing staff. Errors in medication administration include:

  • Crush medicines that should not be crushed
  • Do not provide food or water with the medicine
  • Giving the medicine at the wrong time or giving the wrong dosage
  • Give the patient expired medicines
  • Over-medicate the patient to subdue or control them

A common form of abuse in nursing homes is giving residents drugs they don’t need for the sole purpose of putting them to sleep when not medically necessary. Signs that your loved one has received inappropriate medications include changes in behavior, unexplained weight loss or gain, confusion, memory loss, and lethargy.

In a tragic case involving medication mismanagement, a Chicago jury has returned a $4.1 million verdict for an 85-year-old woman who suffered a stroke after nursing home staff inexplicably stopped giving him stroke medication, although no doctor ordered it to stop. of the drug. Not only did the nursing staff stop giving the Complainant her much-needed medication, they also failed to spot her error in their required daily checks. The woman lived four more years after the stroke, but her quality of life declined significantly after the incident.


Pressure sores develop when a person spends long periods in a chair or bed without moving. Signs of pressure sores are discolored or painful skin and open sores on certain parts of the body, usually the hips, buttocks, back and ankles. Pressure sores are a sign of neglect, as nursing home workers have to move elderly patients who cannot move on their own. Pressure sores can lead to serious medical complications and even death.

In a recent lawsuit, an assisted living facility and the surviving family of an 88-year-old assisted resident reached a $2.3 million settlement. The assisted living facility failed to care for the resident, which led to him developing severe, infected bedsores, leading to his eventual death.

Behavior removed

If you’ve noticed your loved one withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy, or if they suddenly seem depressed, they may be suffering from abuse. Withdrawal behavior can be a sign of many types of abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Of course, withdrawal behavior is not always an indicator of abuse, as it can also be a sign of increasing cognitive decline. Still, this can sometimes be a red flag, so it’s not something you should easily ignore or dismiss.

Anything that doesn’t seem right

Finally, you may notice that something is wrong with your loved one. Always trust your instincts if something seems “off”. If anything seems odd, such as a broken pair of glasses, changes in behavior, changes in finances, or other things that pique your curiosity, definitely don’t dismiss your concerns without further investigation.

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