Nursing Home Abuse Warning Signs

Are you worried that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home? Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a common worry for families. In some cases, elder family members are unintentionally neglected in their nursing home. Other times, the nursing home staff deliberately abuse or mistreat those in their care. While an elderly loved one should never be put in these situations, you must be prepared in case they do suffer abuse or neglect.

If your loved ones are living in nursing homes, there are certain abuse warning signs to watch for when you visit with them, including:

Medical and Physical Changes

In general, physical changes are often an obvious tip-off of elder abuse. It is important to realize that if your loved one has any physical changes, they are likely suffering from abuse injuries. With this in mind, physical changes to watch out for include:

  • Bruises
  • Pressure marks and bed sores
  • Broken bones
  • Abrasions
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained burns
  • Signs of trauma, including rocking back and forth
  • Unmet medical needs
  • Missing medical aids (glasses, walkers, dentures, hearing aids, etc.)

If your loved one’s physical appearance has changed, including having messy, unwashed hair or clothes, this could be a sign of serious neglect. You may also notice broken eyeglasses/frames or broken walkers and canes. These may be signs of physical abuse from the abuser using your loved one’s items to hurt them. Your loved one may try to hide the physical and medical signs of abuse from you. They may feel embarrassed or scared of retribution from their caregivers. If you see any physical signs of abuse, talk frankly with your elderly loved one and let them know that you are there for them.

Financial Distress

Staff members taking advantage of captive nursing home residents and using them as a personal bank account is a serious and widespread issue. Elder financial abuse can take many forms. If someone else is opening your loved one’s mail or cashing their checks, you should immediately contact a lawyer. Additionally, financial abuse can occur when a loved one trusts a healthcare provider with personal financial information. When armed with bank account information and social security numbers, abusers can cause lots of damage. Common instances of financial abuse include:

  • Forging signatures
  • Stealing money
  • Lying about how money and possessions are being used
  • Forcing a resident to sign documents
  • Improper use of the authority granted under a guardianship and/or power of attorney

Some recognizable signs of elder financial abuse include:

  • Unpaid bills piling up
  • Taxes not being paid
  • Missing checks from checkbooks
  • Missing credit cards
  • Overdraft or insufficient fund notices in the mail
  • Missing mail

If any of these signs of financial abuse are observed, contact an elder abuse attorney immediately.

Behavioral Changes

Pay close attention to what your family member says and how they act. If recent conversations are suddenly tense and threatening, your loved one may be suffering from abuse. Threats and aggressive behavior are also common side effects of neglect. Depression is also a common sign of neglect or abuse in nursing homes. With this in mind, be alert and attentive to your loved one, and watch for subtle changes in behavior.

Many victims of elder abuse will suffer in silence, and this withdrawal from daily activities can be a serious red flag. If your loved one always participated in certain activities at the nursing home with their friends, but suddenly stops attending those activities and events, speak with them about these changes. If your loved one has always been neat and tidy, and you notice they are now living in unclean or hazardous living conditions, this change in their environment could be the result of elder abuse or neglect.

Strained Relationships

Victims of abuse might have difficulty in their relationships, including:

  • Frequent arguments
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Belittling
  • Threats
  • Ignoring social settings

If you visit your loved one and their caregivers or nurses either refuse to let you see them or end the visit abruptly, or you see frequent arguments between your loved one and their caregiver, something dangerous may be going on. While no one wants to suspect the worst, it is necessary to know the signs of elder abuse and neglect to be able to stop it. If you suspect a loved one is being abused in a nursing home or other long term care facility, call a Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer. While it is essential to watch and recognize the warning signs, only Lopez McHugh LLP can put a stop to the abuse for good. Let our team of experienced trial attorneys help. Call us today for a free consultation.


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