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Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Stephen M. Garcia

The most important thing you can do for loved ones who are living in a nursing home or a long-term care facility, is to be their advocate.

Being an advocate means overseeing their experience in the nursing home. It means watching to ensure that loved ones really are getting the care they have been promised by the facility, and for which they are paying dearly.

Here are some signs to look for, and to hope that you never see.

Physical Signs:

  • Black-and-blue marks, scratches, abrasions, red marks, cigarette burns, rope burns, or any physical sign that your loved one was hit, pinched, choked, burned, or otherwise abused.
  • Bruises or abrasions from restraints being used for the staff’s convenience rather than for medical needs. For example, tying someone into a wheelchair rather than making sure they are supported by pillows.
  • Bed sores. Look particularly at heels, elbows, shoulder blades, but they can be anywhere.
  • Unexplained falls, or fractures attributed to falls.
  • Unexplained loss of weight, or dry and chapped lips, which are signs of dehydration.
  • Haziness or confusion, resulting from over-medication.
  • Bruises around the genital areas, unexplainable vaginal or anal bleeding, or torn and stained clothing.

Signs of Neglect:

  • Signs or sightings of rats, mice, cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, or other rodents and insects.
  • The facility is dirty or numerous things do not work, such as emergency doors that do not lock and restrooms frequently out of order.
  • Your loved one is not kept clean. There may be a smell of urine or feces.
  • Bruises or fractures from being handled roughly.
  • Not enough staff; no, or inadequate, staff training; or staff doing jobs they are not trained to do.
  • Frequent turnover in management or staff.
  • Cash, jewelry, or other personal items disappear.
  • Visiting hours are regulated to specific days or times. It is your right to be allowed to visit your loved one any day, any time, and with no prior notification to anybody.

Signs from Your Loved One:

  • Fear, especially if it is towards one or two particular people.
  • Depression, withdrawal, resignation, anxiety, particularly when these are new behaviors from your loved one.
  • Telling what seems like outlandish stories.
  • They do not talk for themselves anymore. It seems like a staff person answers all your questions.

This is not a all inclusive list. And there is no magic formula to tell you how many signs you should note before you should take some action. If you stay alert and aware, ask questions of staff and management, believe what you are seeing and being told, you will get a pretty good idea if it is elder abuse or nursing home neglect.

Elder abuse attorneys, such as those at Garicia & Artigliere, can assist you in determining if what you are seeing and what your loved one is experiencing is elder abuse or nursing home neglect.

That is why elder abuse attorneys offer a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation. We know the law; we know if your loved one’s situation is illegal per the law. And, we have seen so many elder abuse and nursing home neglect cases that there is nothing you can say that would shock us.

Elder abuse and nursing home neglect is not your fault. But it is a call to action.

If you think your loved one may be a victim of elder abuse or nursing home neglect, contact Garicia & Artigliere at (800) 328-2630 or at for a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation. For information, visit


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