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How to Identify and Report Nursing Home Abuse


Sad WomanNursing home abuse and neglect are unfortunately a common cause of hospitalization for the elderly and disabled who rely on such facilities. And these events sometimes lead to premature death for the victims. Here are a few tips on how to identify and report nursing home abuse.

Understand That the Victim May Not Be Able to Communicate

Don’t think that the victim of neglect or abuse will be able to tell you. They spend hours a day with the employees and they may be afraid to voice concerns because it will impact the quality of care. If they “tell”, they may not get help for hours after falling, remain uncleaned for days, not have assistance with meals, and otherwise be left to suffer deliberate neglect as punishment. And that’s assuming the victim can communicate it. Someone who is weak due to illness or underlying health problems now suffering malnutrition or dehydration due to neglect probably cannot tell you they aren’t getting enough to eat or drink.

Look for Signs of Neglect

Neglect and abuse often leave physical indications that are obvious even if the patient is afraid or unable to communicate it. Someone with dementia is at increased risk of dental problems because they don’t remember they haven’t brushed their teeth. They may not take their medication because they don’t realize they need it or take too much because they don’t know their schedule. This is why someone with dementia ends up in a nursing home. Continuation of poor dental health instead of improvement, seemingly greasy skin and hair, or lack of medication compliance in an environment that should provide it is a sign of neglect. A patient losing weight despite supposedly being fed or chronically dehydrated is not being cared for. Someone with bruises is either not receiving assistance to perform daily tasks or is actually assaulted by caregivers. Both are problems you need to address.

The Paper Trail

You will sometimes find a paper trail as evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect. Neglect can take the form of unpaid bills where the legal guardian isn’t paying bills that should be paid. One sign of abuse is when the patient is constantly asking for money from guardians without clear indication as to where it goes, such as gifts for grandchildren or hair salon visits. This can be a sign that staff are charging them for services that should be part of the nursing home bill. Or the staff may be taking money to buy items the elder shouldn’t have, whether alcohol, tobacco, or foods prohibited by someone’s doctor.

More serious signs of abuse include changes to someone’s power of attorney, repeated ATM withdrawals or someone constantly asking or needing essentials like socks, underwear, diapers or medications.

You should also seek the help of a nursing home lawyer like those at Garcia Law because extorting the most vulnerable in society is a crime.


Don’t assume that mom will tell you that something is wrong or amiss; she may not have the mental or physical ability to do so, while employees who are abusing or neglecting someone have good reason to come up with excuses. When a patient seems to have physical signs of neglect or abuse, it is necessary to seek an impartial third-party opinion from a medical provider. When there are injuries and illnesses, document everything and seek medical advice, though legal advice may be necessary. Any financial or legal mismanagement requires legal action.

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