When a loved one is living in a nursing home, it’s expected that they should be well cared for and even loved to a certain degree by the staff. Unfortunately, the sad reality is one out of six nursing home residents are abused or neglected every year.

If someone you know is in a nursing home or assisted care facility, know the warning signs to help protect them. Here are ten signs someone is being abused in a nursing home.

1. Their Personal Hygiene is Lacking

Many nursing home residents are unable to bathe and practice basic hygiene without a little assistance. This is especially true when caring for residents with dementia.

They must rely on the facility’s staff to help them brush their teeth, wash their hair, clip their fingernails, and groom them. If a nursing home’s staff skips these duties or simply stops performing them, it’s definitely considered abuse.

If your loved one was unable to attend to their hygiene without daily help and is suddenly noticeably dirty and unkempt this is a sign of neglect.

2. Dirty Conditions

Going hand-in-hand with neglected personal hygiene is finding the nursing home resident’s living area in unsanitary conditions. It’s the staff’s responsibility to clean all surface areas including the floor and carpets, wash bedding, remove dirty dishes, and keep the area generally tidy.

Nursing home management is also obligated to keep the building itself sanitary and free from rodents, bedbugs, cockroaches, and other pests.

3. Unexplained Bruises and Cuts

Sadly, one of the most common signs of nursing home abuse is when a resident has bruises or even cuts that the staff has no explanation for. Bruises in areas such as the arms, hands, and face can signal manhandling, punching, and other forms of assault.

When you visit a nursing home resident, check them over for visible bruises as well as those that may be hidden under clothing. Marks on their wrists may also mean they were restrained.

4. Bed Sores

For bedridden residents, it’s imperative that those taking care of them help them out of bed and into different positions to prevent bedsores or pressure ulcers. Bedsores can be painful and lead to complications if not treated.

Bedsores on a resident are definitely a sign that the staff is not caring for them the way they should.

5. Weight Loss

Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for staff to withhold food from nursing home residents as a form of punishment for something they cannot control. If someone you know in a nursing home is losing weight they could be suffering from malnutrition.

Withholding food and water can also lead to dehydration, a very dangerous condition for older people.

6. Mood Changes

If your loved one is exhibiting negative moods such as depression or is easily upset, this can be a tip-off that something is taking place. They may even become withdrawn and unwilling to communicate with you that something is wrong.

The resident may also be skittish about being hugged or touched and may display unusual behavior that includes rocking back and forth, talking to themselves, or even sucking their thumb. 

A resident that hesitates to talk when a staff member is present may indicate that they’re being abused behind your back. Staff should also be completely willing to let you be alone with the elder resident.

7. Sedation

If a nursing home resident appears heavily sedated or medicated this is another serious sign of neglect. It indicates that the staff didn’t want to tend to them or they’re putting off caring for them until later.

Any medication administered to a nursing home resident must be authorized by a physician. You should check with your loved one’s doctor to find out if their consent was given and what the reason was.

8. Not Taking Medication

This form of neglect can be more difficult to detect, but if the resident has been experiencing frequent medical problems that their medication is meant to prevent, this could mean they’re not taking them.

It’s up to nursing home staff to know the prescription schedule for each patient if they’re unable to remember on their home. It can be downright dangerous if someone isn’t regularly taking medication that regulates blood pressure or prevents stroke.

9. Sexual Abuse

The signs of sexual abuse can be uncomfortable to hear about, but the sad truth is the elderly can find themselves victims of it in nursing home and assisted living environments. Often, they are easy targets when they are unable to express themselves and too physically weak to fend off an attack.

If the resident has bruising around the genitals or on the breasts and wearing underwear that is bloody, stained or ripped, this can mean sexual abuse is taking place. They may even be at risk at contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

10. Financial Exploitation

Lastly, financial exploitation can be another serious form of nursing home abuse. Cash that mysteriously goes missing from the resident’s living quarters or that is withdrawn from their account may mean someone on staff is stealing from them.

If the elderly resident has a mental or physical disability or is confused about taking care of money matters this, unfortunately, can make them more susceptible to having their finances exposed.

Contact Us If You See Signs Someone is Being Abused

Nursing home neglect and abuse is a very serious matter that requires taking legal action to protect your loved one. If you see signs someone is being abused in a nursing home, we can help. We are the voice for victims that can’t always speak their own.

If you suspect someone you care about is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, fill out our contact form for a free case evaluation.