Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse


The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable demographics in our society. Due to declining physical and mental abilities, senior citizens are often placed in nursing homes or assisted living communities. The purpose of these facilities is to ensure the well-being of senior citizens, but unfortunately, the opposite can occur.

Elder abuse occurs all too often in the U.S., but it may be most prevalent in Washington. According to the online resource The Senior List, Washington’s nursing facilities ranked among the most deficient in the country with an average of 18.1 deficiencies per facility. Although Washington didn’t rank the highest in substandard-care deficiencies per facility, Washington still made sixth on the list.

Although this is just one report from one recent year, it helps to demonstrate that senior citizens in Washington may be among the most vulnerable to abuse in the U.S.

How to Identify Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a loved one whose care you entrusted to others, it’s important to know the signs of abuse. Some of these signs may be obvious, others may be less identifiable unless one knows what to look for.

Physical Abuse

As heartbreaking as it is to imagine, many elders are subjected to physical abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Some signs of this type of abuse include the following:

  • Bruising, scars, or welts
  • Unexplained sprains, dislocated joints, and broken bones
  • Frequent reports of falls or similar incidents to explain suspicious injuries
  • Evidence of physical restraint, such as marks on wrists and ankles
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Failing to take medications properly

Sexual Abuse

Most people don’t think of elders as potential victims of sexual abuse, but unfortunately it can happen to many senior citizens.

Signs of this type of abuse can include the following:

  • Evidence of physical restraint, such as marks on wrists and ankles
  • Unexplained STD or genital infections
  • Bruising near primary and secondary sex organs
  • Bleeding from the vagina or anus that’s unrelated to a known medical condition
  • Stained, torn, or bloody undergarments

Emotional Abuse

Some forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse, don’t leave behind physical evidence. That said, the effects of this type of abuse can manifest through certain behaviors.

Some common signs may include the following:

  • Uncharacteristic depression or anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social isolation
  • Mumbling
  • Rocking
  • Thumb-sucking

Signs of emotional abuse may appear similar to those associated with dementia, so it’s generally advised that elders be fully evaluated by a medical professional.

Financial Abuse & Exploitation

Senior citizens are also prone to financial abuse and exploitation.

Signs of financial abuse may include the following:

  • Sudden changes in an elder’s financial situation
  • Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Missing cash or valuables from the elder’s room
  • New bank accounts opened in the senior’s name or jointly with another individual, such as a caregiver
  • ATM cash withdrawals when a senior is immobile or unable to leave their care facility
  • Deficient medical care when the senior should be able to afford it

General Signs of Abuse & Neglect

There are also general signs of abuse and neglect that loved ones of elders should look for.

These can include the following:

  • Unsafe and/or unsanitary living conditions
  • Living with soiled clothing or bed sheets
  • Bedsores
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Malnourishment
  • Body odor from lack of bathing

Do You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?

If you are concerned for the well-being of a senior citizen in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or are an elder concerned for your safety, you can reach out to Hester Law Group for help. Our attorneys can handle elder care negligence cases that hold those responsible for abuse and neglect accountable for their actions.

Learn more about what we can do for you or someone you love by contacting us online and requesting a consultation.