Nursing Home Lawyer

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

If you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, awareness of the signs of abuse is of utmost importance. Being aware of these signs can help you detect abuse early, before the abuse can progress. Early detection of nursing home abuse will help protect your loved one from harm, and may expose patterns of abuse toward other nursing home residents. When we can recognize signs of abuse early, action can more easily be taken to relocate the victim to a more reputable care facility.

The first signs to be realized are usually physical and visible. Physical signs that may indicate abusive practices are:

  • Cuts, lacerations, and skin tears
  • Illness or infection
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Physical abuse warning signs
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Bruises, burns, and welts on the skin
  • Fatigue, insomnia, or other sleep disorders
  • Head and dental injuries
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Other nursing home injuries

Non-physical & Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse may be more of a challenge to detect, especially if the abused resident has a condition that interferes with their communication abilities. If your loved one is communicative, the most simple way to detect emotional abuse would be to ask them how they are being treated, and if there is anything they would like to tell you about their care providers. Otherwise, you must be cognizant about their behavior and take note of any unexpected changes in mood. If you observe abuse towards another nursing home resident, there is a good chance that it may be a sign of abuse being committed towards others. Signs to watch and listen for include:

  • Yelling, shouting, and screaming
  • Threatening
  • Motions and actions mimicking harm
  • Intimidation
  • Insulting, and ridiculing
  • Public embarrassment
  • Making the resident patient feel guilty or upset
  • Withdrawing 
  • Gaslighting and blaming

Signs of Non-verbal Abuse

Mannerisms and actions of those who are administering care can be abusive without saying or touching the patient physically. This is known as non-verbal abuse and may become apparent if these signs are observed:

  • Aggressive actions such as pretending to hit, punch, or kick
  • Neglecting or ignoring the patient
  • Intentional isolation
  • Confinement that prevents the patient from interacting with others
  • Preventing patients from outside time without good reason
  • Restricting access to essential human needs like food, water, or the bathroom
  • Treating the patient like a child
  • Stealing or hiding of a patient’s personal items


When a resident is left unattended for periods of time longer than what is deemed necessary for their care program, they are being neglected. Neglect can lead to physical harm, such as malnutrition, bedsores, and increases the risk of being left for an extended period of time after being injured in a fall.

Sexual Abuse & Assault 

Unfortunately, nursing home residents can also be subjected to sexual abuse. This type of abuse includes any form of unwanted touching and sexual actions.

If you feel that a loved one has been injured or harmed in any way as a result of abusive or malicious actions while receiving nursing home care, we encourage you to contact local authorities and consider contacting an experienced nursing home lawyer in your area.

Thanks to Brown Kiely, LLP for their expertise on the subject of nursing home abuse.