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How to Spot Nursing Home Abuse

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on
Tragically, stories of nursing home abuse aren't as rare as we would like them to be. And in many cases, the abuse occurs for far too long before it is ever discovered.

Anyone with a loved one in a nursing home should be aware of the signs of elder abuse, and know how to spot nursing home abuse early.

Types of Abuse

Many cases of nursing home abuse can go undetected because we're not familiar with the types of abuse elders can suffer in nursing homes. While we may often think about physical abuse in nursing homes like beating, force-feeding, and excessive use of restraints, elders can suffer from a variety of other forms of abuse, including:

  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Self-Neglect
  • Financial/Material Exploitation
  • Abandonment

Understanding that elder abuse doesn't always take the form of physical misconduct is the first step in identifying nursing home abuse in all of its forms.

How to Spot Signs of Abuse

Just as there are many types of nursing home abuse, there are a multitude of signs of elder abuse to keep an eye out for. The signs of physical abuse may be easier to spot: injuries, bruising, weight loss, dehydration, or unclean clothing or living areas. But there are other indicators of abuse:

  • Depression, withdrawal, or unwillingness to talk
  • Anxiety or fearfulness of caregivers
  • Unusual or unexplained behavior
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Suspicious changes in friend groups or legal and financial arrangements

If you're unsure about whether someone you know is suffering from nursing home abuse, it may help to use the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI) to help in identifying abuse. EASI is a list of six questions (five for the elder involved and one for the elder's doctor), that can aid in spotting possible abuse.

Reports of Abuse

In most cases, the only way to end or prevent nursing home abuse is to report elder abuse immediately. You can report abuse to Adult Protective Services, which has offices nationwide and the resources to receive complaints of all kinds of nursing home abuse.

If you suspect someone you love has been abused in a nursing home, you may also want to consult with an experienced injury attorney who can inform you as to the elder abuse laws in your state, and whether you may have an injury claim.

Related Resources:

  • Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
  • Nursing Home Injuries: Considering a Lawsuit? (FindLaw's Injured)
  • 3 Common Nursing Home Injuries (FindLaw's Injured)
  • Elder Abuse Overview (FindLaw)
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