9 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Recognizing signs of nursing home abuse is the first step to protecting your elderly loved ones when they can no longer protect themselves. Getting legal help is the next step.
You visit your elderly loved one in the nursing home as often as you can. Sometimes your relative is agitated, moody, or sullen. Could your father, mother, grandparent, aunt or uncle be suffering from nursing home abuse?

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nine Trouble Signs

The Administration on Aging, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cautions that nursing home abuse and elder abuse is all too common. The types of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial exploitation
  • Neglect and self-neglect
  • Abandonment

Unfortunately, many people visiting their loved ones in nursing homes are intent on brief, busy visits. By educating yourself about the nine trouble signs of nursing home abuse, you can protect your relative physically, financially and legally.


Attorneys who deal with nursing home abuse cases, including Ginsburg & Associates, caution against leaping to conclusions based on a single instance or sign of a problem. Nursing home staff members may have legitimate explanations for issues, and the vast majority of caregivers provide conscientious support to their elderly residents.

When you see multiple warning signs, you have cause for concern. The services of a qualified law firm can help you provide legal and financial protection for your loved ones and help stop the abuse.

The Trouble Signs

  1. Physical abuse

    Physical abuse is indicated by marks on the body, including bruises, pressure marks, abrasions, burns and broken bones. Elderly residents in nursing homes do sustain falls (from beds, in the bathroom and in transferring from wheelchair to dining table, for example), but these falls do not usually cause substantial injuries to their arms. Nursing home staff needlessly restraining elderly residents, on the other hand, may leave bruises on arms.

  2. Sexual abuse

    Sexual abuse is indicated by bruises around breasts and genitals or a sudden preoccupation with sexual issues by your relative.

  3. Emotional Abuse

    Emotional abuse is indicated by changes in mood, suddenly heightened alertness or depression. These symptoms can show as quick triggers, as when a particular staff member appears and your normally chatty relative gets unusually quiet.

  4. Financial Abuse

    Financial abuse or exploitation is often evident in the disappearance of small personal valuables (rings, watches, jewelry) or an increased need for money to purchase incidental items through a nursing home. Nursing home abuse lawyers in Philadelphia and nationwide often see clients’ financial situations change abruptly.

  5. Reduced Health

    Evidence of neglect includes bed sores, poor hygiene, weight loss, or lapses in prescription medications.

  6. Self-neglect

    Self-neglect appears as poor grooming, refusal to take meals, and uncaring attitudes toward basic safety and common sense behavior.

  7. Abandonment

    Most nursing home abuse does not include abandonment, though the lawyers at Ginsburg & Associates have seen cases where facilities withdraw services for immediate financial gain. A nursing home may reduce staff numbers, causing the level of care to fall.

  8. Silence

    The eighth sign of abuse is silence. You usually elicit a warm greeting from your elderly relative, and now she barely says anything. When you ask nursing home staff simple questions about your loved one’s care, you get evasive answers—or no answers at all.

  9. General disposition of Staff members

    The ninth sign of nursing home abuse is the general disposition of staff members towards all residents, not just your loved one. If they use threats, push or grab the residents, or raise their voices unnecessarily, you may have cause for concern.

If you are seeking a nursing home abuse lawyer in Philadelphia, Ginsburg & Associates can work with you to get the level of care and financial security your loved one needs. Contact our attorneys today.