5 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

There are approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States as of 2018. In the state of Florida, there are 698. Unfortunately, not all these homes were safe and secure places for our elder family members. 

In fact, about 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced abuse in a community home in 2021. After the Covid-19 pandemic, rates of elder abuse skyrocketed, so it’s more important than ever to look out for these warning signs. 

1. Unexplained Injuries

There are a few different types of abuse that take place in nursing homes. Not all abuse is physical, but it can be. If your loved one has any unexplainable injuries, it may be cause for concern. 

Injuries can result from physical or sexual abuse, in which a staff member puts their hands directly on someone. This includes hitting, pushing, or sexual assault. However, injuries can also be a result of neglect. 

Some seniors need assistance getting out of bed on their own. If no one is around to help them, they could develop bed sores or injure themselves when trying to get up. 

Any injury that isn’t documented with the assisted living facility should be cause for concern. If you ask the nursing home staff and they deflect or refuse to answer your questions, it may be time to move your loved one and hire an attorney. 

2. Sudden Changes in Behavior

Sudden changes in behavior should always be cause for concern. Experiencing abuse is traumatic, and everyone reacts differently. You know your loved one best, and if you’re noticing changes in their behavior that don’t make sense, it might be time to act. 

Changes in behavior could look like the following: 

  • Not wanting to leave their room 
  • Not wanting to engage with staff members
  • Not wanting to talk to you or other family members
  • Mood changes, such as depression, sadness, or anger
  • Getting defensive or angry when asked about mood changes
  • Having a short temper 

3. Wanting to Be Isolated

Some signs of abuse can be easy to miss. For example, a common sign of nursing home abuse is a reluctance to be around others. If your loved one doesn’t want to spend time with you, doesn’t want to leave their room, and is uncomfortable when staff members are around, this may be cause for concern. 

However, if they’ve just moved into their new home, they may still be adjusting. Keep an eye on them and see if these changes go away. If they’re consistent, it might be time to talk to them about what’s happening. 

4. Rapid Weight Changes

Again, it’s normal for seniors to experience some changes when they move into a nursing home. However, rapid weight changes are not normal. Rapid weight changes are a common sign of neglect. If your loved one has lost a lot of weight, it may be because they aren’t getting enough to eat. This could be because: 

  • They’re uncomfortable going into the dining room area because of a certain staff member
  • A staff member has belittled them about their weight 
  • A staff member has purposely restricted food 
  • They have an underlying health issue that isn’t being treated by the staff

If your loved one has gained weight rapidly, this could be cause for concern as well. They may be eating more due to stress. They could also have an underlying health condition that they aren’t receiving treatment for. 

5. Unsanitary Conditions

If your loved one is being neglected, they might be living in unsanitary conditions. Unsanitary conditions can be a result of neglect or abuse. Neglect may occur by accident if the nursing home is understaffed or forgetful. Abuse, however, occurs when an employee makes the decision to ignore a patient. 

Unsanitary living conditions may look like the following: 

  • Not changing clothes frequently 
  • Not using the bathroom
  • Not changing bandages
  • Not taking baths 
  • Not changing diapers 

Nursing home staff are required to provide a basic level of assistance. If residents cannot take care of themselves, they’ll rely on this help. If your loved one appears to be living in unsanitary conditions, it’s likely a result of a neglectful staff. 

How to Talk to Your Loved One About Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you’ve noticed any of these signs in your elderly loved one, it may be time to seek help. But what are the next steps? How do you speak to your loved one about the abuse or neglect they might be experiencing? And how do you escalate the issue to a lawyer? 

To set yourself up for success, you should always speak to your loved one outside the nursing home. Take them out for a meal or bring them to your home, so they can feel comfortable when answering your questions. 

It can be a difficult conversation to have, but it’s important to ensure their safety. Don’t talk to them about filing a lawsuit (at first). Instead, just try to be supportive of what they’re going through. Let them know that you’re a safe person to talk to and that you’re trying to help.  

Contact Osborne & Francis ASAP to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation 

If you’re seeing the warning signs of abuse in your loved one, it’s time to speak with an experience nursing home abuse attorney. To learn more about Osborne & Francis and how we can help you with your case, please contact us at (561) 293-2600

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