How to Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Caregiver verbally abusing elder woman

The signs of nursing home abuse are not always obvious, especially given the nature of nursing home care. It is important to know how to recognize any clues pointing to potential nursing home abuse or neglect, so that you can take action against it.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Certain types of nursing home abuse may be physically visible on your loved one. However, under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, elder abuse may consist of any of the following types harm:

  • Physical elder abuse
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Financial elder abuse
  • Neglect

Common Signs of Physical Elder Abuse

Signs of physical abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility may include:

  • Unexplained scrapes, bruises, burns or bleeding
  • Sprains, dislocated joints and/or broken bones
  • Missing teeth
  • Lacerations
  • Rope burns or strap abrasions (may be indications of forced restraint)
  • Sexual assault

Common Signs of Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can range from humiliation and threats to isolation against an elder’s will. Sudden changes in behavior may indicate emotional abuse. Common signs may include:

  • Unexplained anxiety or fear
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Strained relationship between nursing home staff and the elder
  • Social isolation, such as withdrawal from activities that the elder previously enjoyed

Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Signs of nursing home neglect may include:

  • Bedsores
  • Falls
  • Medication errors
  • Dehydration and/or malnutrition
  • Unsanitary conditions (poor hygiene, dirty clothes or bedding)
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Infection

Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

Unfortunately, in many cases, financial elder abuse is committed by someone the elder knows. Common signs of financial elder abuse may include:

  • Misappropriation of funds
  • New credit card or financial accounts
  • Missing personal items, cash and/or valuables
  • Changes to estate plan, such as will, trust or power of attorney

More Signs of Elder Abuse and Elder Neglect

In addition to the signs above, the following signs may also indicate nursing home abuse or neglect:

  • Evidence the victim is self-treating injuries
  • Delays in medical treatment for injuries
  • Lack of staff at the facility
  • Long delays in answering call lights
  • History of emergency room visits
  • Pattern of similar injuries among other members in the nursing home
  • Nursing home staff will not let you be alone with your loved one

What Do I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, it is vital that you take action to stop it immediately. Call your local authorities. If you suspect elder abuse, you should report it. You can report suspicions of nursing home abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS).

You should also document as much evidence as you can. Depending on the type of abuse, examples may include:

  • Photos and written documentation of abuse or neglect
  • Medical records
  • Financial records
  • Records of conversations with residents or staff

Then, we recommend that you speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer about your situation. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and take action under California elder abuse laws.

Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

The nursing home abuse lawyers at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP have the experience and resources necessary to get you and your loved one justice. We represent clients throughout the Bay Area, including Santa Clara County, San Mateo County and Alameda County. Call us at (408) 956-6949 or fill out our confidential online contact form to schedule a free consultation.