You may be nervous about speaking to your loved one about nursing home abuse, but it’s important to think about their well-being and how you can help them by starting a conversation. Make sure you’re armed with evidence before you approach this conversation. To learn more about the different types of abuse, signs of abuse, and how to discuss the topic with your loved one, keep reading.

There are many forms of nursing home abuse, and they happen far more often than you think. According to the World Health Organization, two out of three staff members said they abused a nursing home resident in the previous year.

The following are some of the more common indications of nursing home abuse. If this is happening to your loved one, a Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh nursing home attorney is standing by to help.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Before you talk to your loved one about potential abuse, you’ll need to have a reason to do so. Below are a collection of different signs of nursing home abuse, ranging from signs of physical abuse to neglect or harassment.

Not Taking Medications

A few signs may indicate that a nursing home resident is not taking their medications as prescribed. Some of these signs include:

  • Sudden changes in the resident’s health or behavior, such as a decline in physical condition or an increase in confusion or agitation
  • The nursing home’s medication administration records indicated missed doses of medication.
  • Difficulty swallowing or other signs of discomfort when taking medication.
  • Complaints from the resident or their family members about not receiving medication.

Broken Glasses or Other Possessions

If a nursing home resident’s glasses or other possessions, such as jewelry, are frequently broken or go missing, it may indicate neglect or abuse. It could be due to the staff not being mindful of the resident’s belongings or a more severe issue like theft by staff or other residents.

It’s worth noting that residents in nursing homes, especially those with dementia or other cognitive impairments, may be more prone to losing or breaking their personal belongings. Speak with nursing home staff to understand the root cause of the issue, and take action if what they say doesn’t satisfy you.

Unexplained Injuries

Unexplained injuries can signify neglect or abuse in a nursing home. These injuries can include bruises, cuts, broken bones, or burns. If you see any of these signs, document the injury, including the date, time, and observations you made, as this information can be helpful in an investigation.

Unsafe Living Conditions

Unsafe living conditions can be a severe issue in nursing homes, putting residents at risk of injury or illness. Some examples of unsafe living conditions include:

  • Poor sanitation, such as dirty bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Fire hazards, such as blocked exits or malfunctioning smoke alarms.
  • Cracked or broken stairs or stairs with loose handrails.
  • Unsafe temperature or humidity levels can lead to mold or other health hazards.
  • Unsafe equipment, such as broken beds or wheelchairs.
  • Insect or rodent infestations.

Some issues may be due to a lack of funding, inadequate staffing, or other operational challenges. However, regardless of the cause, the nursing home must address and correct unsafe living conditions as soon as possible to ensure the safety of residents.

Abrupt Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss in a nursing home resident can be a sign of neglect or abuse or a symptom of an underlying health issue. Some of the causes of sudden weight loss in nursing home residents include:

  • Not being provided with enough food or adequate nutrition.
  • Illness or disease that affects their ability to eat or digest food.
  • Depression or other mental health issues that affect their appetite.
  • Side-effects of certain medications.

If the nursing home staff can’t explain the weight loss, or if you suspect abuse or neglect, seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in elder abuse cases.

Abrupt Financial Changes

Sudden financial changes in a nursing home resident, such as large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes to the resident’s will, can indicate financial abuse. Financial abuse in nursing homes can take many forms, including theft, fraud, or coercion.

Withdrawn or Not Communicating as Usual

There are several reasons why a nursing home resident may become withdrawn or stop communicating as usual. Some of the possible causes include the following:

  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse – If a resident is being neglected or mistreated, they may become withdrawn or stop communicating to cope with the abuse.
  • Illness or disease – An underlying medical condition or disease can cause a resident to withdraw or stop communicating as usual. For example, residents with dementia may have trouble communicating as the disease progresses.
  • Medication side-effects – Some medications can cause drowsiness, confusion, or other side effects that may make it difficult for a resident to communicate or interact with others.


Infections can be a sign of neglect or abuse in a nursing home. Poor sanitation, inadequate infection control practices, or neglect of personal hygiene can all lead to the spread of infections among residents. Sexually transmitted infections can also be a sign of sexual abuse taking place within a nursing home. Some examples of infections that can occur in nursing homes include:

  • Skin infections, such as pressure ulcers, bedsores, or cellulitis
  • Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or influenza
  • Gastrointestinal infections, such as norovirus or Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Sexually transmitted infections

The Caregiver Refuses to Let You Be Alone with Your Loved One

If a caregiver refuses to let you be alone with your loved one in a nursing home, it may be a sign of neglect or abuse. It could be a sign that the caregiver is trying to conceal something from you, such as neglect or mistreatment of your loved one. Additionally, it could indicate that the caregiver does not want to be held accountable for their actions.

Steps to Take if You Notice Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect a loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, take immediate action to protect their safety and well-being. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Talk to your loved one – Find a way to speak with your loved one alone about the signs you’ve noticed. They’ll be more likely to tell you the truth if you can speak with them outside the nursing home. Then, you can communicate the plan to move them to another facility.
  • Report your concerns – Contact the nursing home administration and the state agency that oversees long-term care facilities and report your suspicions of abuse. Provide as much detail as possible, including any evidence you have collected.
  • Document the abuse – Keep a record of any incidents, including the date, time, and observations you made. Take photographs or videos if possible.
  • Communicate with the nursing home staff and healthcare providers – Talk to the staff and healthcare providers at the nursing home to understand the cause of the abuse and take appropriate actions.
  • Talk to the police – contact local law enforcement or an adult protective services agency for further assistance.
  • Get your loved one out – Move them to a different facility if necessary.

Talking to Your Loved One About Nursing Home Abuse

It can be nerve-wracking to approach a loved one about suspected abuse. You may not be sure what to say, and you don’t want to make them uncomfortable. It’s important to ensure that they know you’re only trying to help. Don’t push too hard, and if they don’t want to talk to you about it, back off for the time being.

Ultimately, if they’re in their right mind and they don’t want to discuss the abuse with you, you’ll need to be patient. However, if they aren’t cohesive (for example, if they struggle with dementia or other issues that affect their cognitive ability), you may decide to take action without their input. Ultimately, if you believe that they’re being abused, moving them to a new facility is the best way to ensure the abuse stops.

Contact KMW if You Believe Your Loved One is Experiencing Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

A Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh attorney can help if you have reason to believe your elderly loved one is being mistreated. You won’t pay anything unless we deliver the compensation your family deserves. We get results for our clients, and we’re ready to do the same for you.

You can contact us online for a free consultation or call.