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Warnings of Nursing Home Abuse

An aging loved one demonstrating a need for extended nursing care has a number of choices for those services today compared to previous generations. Selections are as varied as there are interests and the widening spectrum of conveniences represents an aging population more determined to be selective in their choices.

Still, it is a daunting task with a number of criteria to consider – short or long term admission, level of assistance needed, religious or cultural preferences as well as location.

After meaningful research into these and other conditions, residents ultimately transition into care with hopes for a positive experience. While that is likely the more common result, there may be times when problems arise; consequently, how do you recognize them and what do you do if there is actual abuse?


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, the following signs could warrant further investigation.

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.


If you suspect abuse, first, talk to your loved one about the situation and listen carefully to their concerns. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging recommends you call 911 if you determine they are in imminent danger. If the situation is non-life-threatening, the next step may be to calmly address the nursing home administration so that together you may figure out an agreeable solution. A persistent, unresolved problem, however, may require the help of legal representation.

As a relative or friend of someone in a skilled nursing facility, protecting their rights and quality of life is important. Taking steps about nursing home abuse can be an emotional issue but one, with proper steps, can be remedied through appropriate measures.