Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Warning signs of nursing home abuse range from the obvious to the insidious. Elderly residents don’t always speak out about verbal, mental or physical abuse; sometimes they are unable, sometimes they are too afraid or intimidated. Sometimes nursing home abuse isn’t discovered until it’s just too late.

Some of the critical warning signs of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect of which family, friends, and other nursing home visitors must be keenly aware include weight loss, sudden memory loss or periods of forgetfulness, irritation or anxiety without any measurable cause, bruises, bedsores, and the use of restraints.

Some of the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect are obvious, such as unexplained bruises, cuts, burns and broken bones, but some are not-so-obvious, such as weight loss, poor personal grooming, missing possessions, and unusual signs of loneliness and depression.

Since injuries and accidents are relatively common in a nursing home environment, it is often confusing to families and friends what constitutes a “normal” accident and what merits investigation or other prompt action. It’s critical that families and friends learn to discern, as best they can, situations that may signal potential nursing home abuse.

Ask questions about falls. Watch for unsafe conditions at nursing homes while you are researching and again as a visitor. Ask questions about medications, dosages, and any medication changes. Wandering away from the nursing home is a red flag indicating neglect. Bedsores require immediate and careful attention, as do any signs of malnutrition and dehydration.

All of these factors are critical and significant to the health of seniors, and lack of attention to any of them on the part of nursing home staff should be considered a serious warning sign of nursing home neglect or physical or mental abuse.