Nursing Home Abuse Warning Signs

Nursing Home Abuse: What Are the Warning Signs?

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 11-Aug-2016

The elderly deserve our respect. These are our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teachers that have cared for us and now need care themselves. In many cases, however, the elderly are taken advantage of. They are abused and neglected by people who see their age as a weakness. The problem of nursing home abuse and neglect is one we should all know how to recognize and prevent.

Elder abuse is a tragedy that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our country every day. Because many of us will one day require long-term nursing care, and because many of us already have a loved one in a nursing home, it is crucial that we know how to recognize the signs of elder abuse and neglect. If you currently suspect that your elderly loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home or by their caregiver, please contact an Orlando personal injury attorney at The Maher Law Firm. We can help you take swift legal action.

Understanding the Facts: How Big is the Problem?

As of 2000[1], approximately 13 million people require long-term care services. This includes residents in nursing homes, but also those who require in-home nursing assistance. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 27 million. With the growing demand for quality care, the nursing home industry will have to be prepared with highly skilled staff and well-equipped facilities. As it stands, they are not.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse[2], up to 10% of elders report abuse in the previous year. Because it is estimated that only one out of every 14 cases comes to the attention of authorities, we could be dramatically underestimating these figures. A 2000 study[3] revealed that of 2,000 nursing home residents, 44% experienced abuse and 95% said they had witnessed or experienced neglect.

How to Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home neglect and abuse can take many forms. It is often well-hidden, not only by the abuser, but also by the victim. Many elderly people are ashamed of the abuse and blame themselves. They also don't want to be a burden to their loved ones and see the admission of neglect or abuse as an admission that they cannot care for themselves. Because loved ones may not tell you they are being abused, it's especially important you know what to look for. The Administration on Aging (AOA)[4] provides some of the warning signs of:


  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss
  • Signs of malnutrition or dehydration
  • Lack of medical aids like walker, dentures, etc.
  • Lack of proper hygiene / untreated bed sores
  • Dementia patients left unsupervised

Physical and Sexual Abuse:

  • Unexplained bruising or injuries
  • Resident acts withdrawn or frightened
  • Bleeding, lacerations, or restraint marks
  • Unexplained STDs or infections

Emotional Abuse:

  • Unexplained changes in behavior
  • Self-imposed or caregiver-imposed isolation
  • Fearful behavior around staff members
  • Unexplained mental health issues

Loved ones who are victims of abuse may show subtle changes in the way they act. They may not want you to visit often, as they may be scared you'll find out. On the other hand, if they are willing to ask for help, they may want you around more often as sort of a protector. Depression, fear, isolation, and other changes in behavior are all signs of abuse and mistreatment. Anytime your loved one's behavior changes dramatically, it could be the sign of a problem. Do not ignore these signs, even if your loved one is hesitant to speak up.

The best way to handle your suspicions is to ask and to listen. If your loved one is being abused, you have the power to help. Take action by contacting an Orlando personal injury lawyer at The Maher Law Firm. We can inform you of your rights and legal options.

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