Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP
Treating California’s Injured With Dignity And Respect

What does nursing home abuse look like?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse in nursing facilities has become a disturbingly common issue in the United States, with about five million older people facing abuse each year, according to the National Council on Aging. However, the statistics might be much worse in reality, as some victims are usually too afraid or unable to speak.

Knowing how to spot the signs of abuse in a nursing home can be the first step toward protecting your aging loved ones from harm and holding those responsible accountable. 

Physical abuse

Physical harm is the easiest type of abuse to spot. Unexplained bruises, cuts or burns on your loved one’s body should warrant further investigation. Do not hesitate to ask questions if you see injuries, especially if they appear regularly or do not have a clear explanation. You may also look for signs of restraint, such as marks on the wrists or ankles and any report of pain without any apparent cause. 

Emotional abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse may be more complex to detect, but the impact can be just as harmful to older people. Signs may include sudden changes in behavior, like withdrawal from social interactions, depression or severe anxiety. Look out for these behavioral changes, particularly when they occur in a room with a staff member. 


Neglect occurs when a nursing home fails to provide residents with the care and attention they need to live safely and comfortably. Signs could include poor personal hygiene, noticeable weight loss, an unkempt appearance or body order. It may also be wise to look for signs of bedsores or dehydration, like dry lips and sunken eyes. Recognizing these red flags as soon as possible is crucial as they not only compromise the quality of life but also the health and safety of your loved one. 

Abuse occurring in environments meant to provide care and comfort is particularly tragic, yet it is a reality for many Americans residing in nursing homes. This is why it is crucial for family members to stay vigilant and know what signs to look for when it comes to elder abuse.