What are Some Indications of Nursing Home Abuse?

Updated on September 24, 2021

When it is time to move your loved one into a nursing home, you want to make sure that it is the right place for them. You expect that the team there will be respectful and kind to your loved one. You expect that they will do their jobs correctly and be sure your loved one receives medications on time. 

It’s a good idea to talk to an attorney whenever you plan to move your loved one to a nursing home. Just understanding their rights and what you can or cannot do, such as placing a nanny cam into their room, will help you prepare. Then, if anything does go wrong, you’ll have someone to turn to for legal help. 

What Types of Nursing Home Abuse Are There?

Nursing home abuse may come in many forms including:

  • Financial abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Verbal abuse

It’s important that you get to know some of the signs of these kinds of abuse, so that you can identify them if or when they occur. 

Financial abuse

Signs of financial abuse may include suddenly missing assets that were in your loved one’s room in the nursing home, seeing expenditures that are not typical and noticing a missing checkbook or debit card. If your loved one suddenly has less money than usual, it’s time to look into where that money is going.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is another risk for nursing home patients. Some of the signs of physical nursing home abuse include:

  • Bruising
  • Falls without explanation
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts or lacerations

If you start to see that your loved one is getting hurt more than usual, then you should look to see if physical abuse could be a cause.

Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse is another possible problem in nursing homes. With psychological abuse, symptoms may include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Fearfulness
  • Complaints about gaslighting or name-calling 

If you witness psychological abuse in the nursing home that involves any of the residents, you should not assume that your loved one is safe from it.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse may be more difficult to identify, which is why it’s important to make sure your loved one has annual examinations and is seen if they have complaints about chest or groin pain. Bruising on the genitals is a sign of abuse, but there may not always be physical signs. If you have suspicions, it’s important to look into your options for keeping an eye on your loved one with cameras or other recording devices.


Neglect can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores and other issues. If your loved one develops serious injuries, starts to lose weight or seems to be extremely hungry or thirsty when you’re present, then you should look into the cause.

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse may include name-calling, yelling and screaming at the patient and other verbal acts. Your loved one may have a change in behavior or seem fearful if they are regularly verbally assaulted. 

Medical neglect

Another possible type of nursing home abuse is medical neglect. This may include not giving a patient their medications on time or over-medicating them to make them easier to take care of. For example, using chemical restraints may be necessary in rare cases when a patient is a risk to themselves or others, but simply using medications to chemically restrain someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who is crying in pain or distress is generally unacceptable. 

What Should You Do If Your Loved One Is a Victim of Abuse?

If you believe that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, it’s time to take action. 

If you have just arrived at the nursing home and found them in pain or being abused, call 911. The police can come to the scene and take a report, and you can have your loved one transported to a hospital or other location with the help of emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Any time your loved one is in danger, call 911. Do not wait.

If the situation is not an emergency, but you suspect that abuse is taking place, talk to the nursing home director or head nurse immediately. If they do not seem bothered or to want to investigate further, you have a right to pull your loved one out of that facility’s care. It may take time to do so, so you should contact your attorney to determine if there is a safe place, such as another outpatient facility or hospital, that will accept your loved one until a transfer can be arranged. 

Working with nursing home abuse lawyers will give you an opportunity to determine the next steps to take if your loved one has been abused in a nursing home. You can, and should, take steps to protect them and hold others responsible for their reckless, negligent or malicious behaviors. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.