Nursing Home Abuse Far Too Common a Problem

Recognizing the signs commonly found in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect can often times be difficult, and in some cases, go overlooked. Although a topic we typically don’t like to think about when we place loved ones in the care of relative strangers, nursing home abuse and neglect is far too common a problem to simply be dismissed. This is particularly true where our elders become more physically vulnerable, may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they once did, or where they are suffering from mental or physical ailments that may make them more trying companions to fellow residents.

What follows is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the signs, but rather are typical signs of abuse and neglect in the long-term care facilities entrusted with caring for our elders. Generally speaking, frequent arguments or tension between the staff and other caregivers and the elderly person and changes in personality or behavior in the elder are warning signs of some kind of abuse. Other possible signs to help determine whether abuse and neglect are occurring are as follows:


  • Unexplained bruises, welts, or scars
  • Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
  • Bruising or marks on the wrists from being restrained
  • Caregiver refuses to allow you to see the elder alone


  • Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver that you witness
  • Behavioral changes in the elderly person, such as rocking or biting
  • Elderly person is isolated or withdrawn
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unexplained confusion, anxiety or depression


  • Injury to breasts and/or genital area
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted disease or genital infections
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Torn, stained, or bloody undergarments


  • Dehydration
  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition
  • Consistently soiled linens and undergarments
  • Tender or red spots on the underside of heels and on the backside
  • Untreated bedsores
  • Being left dirty or unbathed
  • Unsuitable clothing or covering for weather
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Desertion and isolation by caregivers

Other forms of abuse involve financial exploitation and healthcare fraud and abuse, such as duplicate billings for the same medical service, or billing for care that was not provided. Additionally, other warning signs that the elder may experience abuse or neglect include poorly trained staff, insufficient staff for the number of residents at the facility, overcrowding of residents, and inadequate responses to questions about care.

Find answers to other frequently asked questions about nursing home abuse.


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