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6 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Personal Injuries / April 15, 2016

Nursing home abuse occurs far too often, don’t let your loved one be the victim of carelessness and neglect.

There are many warning signs to look for if you suspect that yourself or a loved one is being mistreated or neglected. Physical signs include bedsores, pressure ulcers, broken bones, dehydration, and weight loss from malnutrition, while mental signs include things such as withdrawn behavior and abnormal fear that wasn’t present before. Financial abuse can range anywhere from over-billing to trickery, to outright theft of an elders money or belongings. Some abusive caregivers may even do things like hiding assistive devices such as canes and glasses, or placing emergency call buttons out of reach of the patient.

Physical Injuries and Bruises

Physical injuries such as broken bones or bruising aren’t always indicative of abuse or neglect but they are warning signs to watch for. Injuries could be sprains, dislocations, fractures, or broken bones. You may also notice burns from cigarettes, appliances, or hot water. Unexplained scratches, abrasions, or internal injuries may signal nursing home abuse or neglect. Certain medications may make a person more susceptible to bruising, but some bruises are rarely accidental, such as bilateral bruising on the arms, as though the person has been shaken or grabbed, bilateral bruising on the thighs, or multicolor bruises which would mean the bruises were sustained over a longer period of time.

Behavioral Changes

Emotional abuse or neglect can be incredibly damaging. Changes in mood and behavior could result from physical or emotional abuse. Often, people may stop taking medications, seeing their doctors, or following medical advice when they’re being abused or neglected. Changes in mood and behavior may also indicate sexual abuse. An abused person may act secretive about their bruises, giving excuses that don’t quite make sense or match up with the injury. A history of similar injuries or lack of consistency in medical facilities for treatment are also behavioral indicators of abuse. Nursing home neglect may be a delay of medical care following an injury or illness. Putting objects like water cups, food, or devices like canes and wheelchairs just out of reach constitutes abuse and neglect.

Changes in finances or property

Financial exploitation of an elderly person is abuse. If you observe your loved one making sudden changes in their will, deeds, or Power of Attorney, you may be seeing abuse. Abuse can also manifest in your loved one having lost or missing possessions, randomly gifted possessions, out of the ordinary bank withdrawals or purchases, or the inability to pay for basic needs or services.


For many seniors, malnutrition is caused by physical, social, and psychological issues. Problems like dementia, diminished sense of smell and taste, medication side effects, and dental issues can cause a decreased appetite or difficulty eating. Restricted diets or limited income may also cause malnutrition. Depression has many side effects, two of which can greatly impact eating habits – for an elderly person with reduced social contact, eating may not be as enjoyable as it once was with friends and family. Depression can lend to alcoholism which will contribute greatly to a person’s nutrition and dehydration. It is the responsibility of a caregiver to ensure that the physical, social, and psychological issues contributing to a person’s diet are well-managed.


Dehydration isn’t easy to spot but elderly dehydration is one of the more frequent causes of hospitalization. Decreased thirst is a problem amongst the elderly often due to aging and medication, absentee or neglectful caregivers may not sense that their patient needs fluids. Dehydration will alter brain function, leading to confusion, dizziness, and headaches. Dehydration affects the body, an elderly person suffering from dehydration may have difficulty walking, sunken eyes, inability to sweat or produce tears, a rapid heart rate, constipation, low urine output, low blood pressure, or a dry mouth.

Poor hygiene or sanitation

Nursing home neglect such as poor hygiene and sanitation is often the result of too many patients and not enough staff. For people with diapers or other continence devices, frequent changing and thorough cleaning is necessary. Consistent bathing and clean clothes are also vital to the well-being of those receiving care. Poor hygiene and sanitation isn’t just the cleanliness of the elderly person receiving care, it also refers to their living conditions such as having clean sheets, clean food preparation area, and sanitary bathrooms.

Concerned for your loved one?

If you or your loved one is showing any of these signs, or you believe you have a case for nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the Hollis Law Firm today. We have an experienced legal and medical staff that can help you. All information you share with us is privileged; any investigation we make into your claim is free, confidential, and risk free.