Nursing Home Neglect: Do You Recognize These Warning Signs?

October 7, 2021by Laura Schaefer

You assume your elder loved one is receiving quality care at their nursing home. However, the unfortunate truth is nursing home neglect is more common than many people may think. Neglect is defined by the National Center on Elder Abuse as the failure or refusal to provide for an older resident’s safety, physical wellbeing, social and emotional health.

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To ensure your own friend or older relative isn’t a victim of this terrible crime, it is wise to know what the warning signs are so you can recognize them immediately and take action.

You may believe your elderly loved one will speak up if they become the victim of nursing home neglect, but sometimes they cannot. For example, residents with dementia may have difficulty finding the words they need to explain what is happening to them. Others may not want to tell their loved ones about abuse or neglect because they fear staff retribution.

In some cases, nursing home residents aren’t verbal and cannot tell loved ones they’re suffering from neglect. Therefore, friends and family members must watch for the warning signs you’ll read over below. If you recognize these warning signs, it’s crucial to report them to state or local authorities.

Whenever you suspect neglect or abuse, talk to a lawyer immediately.

Physical and Behavioral Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

According to Justice for Elder Abuse and the National Center on Elder Abuse, there are several signs to watch out for. These fall into several categories and may include some or all of the following:

  • Untreated bed sores and/or unexplained injuries or cuts
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Mouth sores or dental problems that suggest either dehydration or malnutrition
  • Withdrawal from social activities or becoming non-communicative around certain staff members
  • The person bruises easily or has wounds that won’t heal
  • You see unusual new behaviors, like biting or rocking back and forth
  • Frequent illnesses (especially if the facility cannot explain how your loved one got sick)
  • Your loved one appears fearful or has anxiety (regularly becoming upset or agitated)
  • Missing medical devices/aids and other items your loved one needs on a daily basis, such as:
    • Glasses
    • Walker
    • Hearing aid
    • Medications
    • Dentures
  • Poor hygiene and/or ripped or stained underclothing
  • Unexplained changes in your loved one’s sleeping or eating habits

Another sign of elder abuse is financial exploitation. Look for signs such as unpaid bills, unexplained changes in bank accounts, or fraudulent signatures on documents.

What Can You Do to Help?

You can help prevent nursing home neglect by:

  • Accessing caregiver resources in your town or neighborhood, such as respite care or caregiver support groups.
  • Making good use of local or community-based resources, including home-delivered meals and senior centers.
  • Ask other family members and friends to share in the physical, emotional, and social care needs of the older people in your life.

Remember: It is okay to ask for help. Everyone has a right to be safe.

Prevent social isolation in the elderly by supporting community centers, public transit, and programs designed to empower older people in your life. Over three million Americans live in nursing homes, many of which are funded by the federal government. Nursing homes that receive Medicaid or Medicare funds must comply with federal laws such as CFR 483.13, designed to prevent abuse and neglect of the elderly.

Asking a lawyer to file your nursing home abuse claim is not a frivolous choice. This action holds nursing home staff accountable for their actions. In fact, it also stops funding to facilities that violate federal standard of care guidelines. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect inside a facility in your community, reach out to an attorney today. Your loved one is counting on you. You can sign up for a free consultation today through LegalASAP, and when you do, here’s what to expect during your consult.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online nursing home neglect case evaluation now!

Laura Schaefer
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at and

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