Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect You Shouldn’t Ignore

January 24, 2021

Millions of Americans live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Although most of these facilities provide excellent care to the elderly, those who live in nursing homes are always at risk of becoming victims of abuse and neglect from facility staff, fellow residents, or others. 

Every individual living in a nursing home or long-term care facility has the right to be free from abuse, punishment, and neglect. Those who are victimized in nursing homes have the right to pursue compensation and justice from those responsible for the harm inflicted. If you and your family have a loved one in a nursing home, you should familiarize yourself with signs of abuse and neglect, so that you can take action to protect your loved one if necessary.

Read more: Pennsylvania Nursing Home Sued Over COVID-19 Outbreak and Deaths

What Are Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Federal regulations define nursing home abuse and neglect as:

  • Abuse: willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, deprivation of care or services, or infliction of punishment that results in physical injury, pain, or mental or emotional anguish or distress
  • Neglect: the failure (whether intentional or not) to provide a nursing home resident with care and services needed to ensure they remain free from harm, or the failure to react to a situation that could potentially result in anxiety or harm to a resident

Types of nursing home abuse and neglect can include:

  • Physical abuse, including punching, slapping, kicking, pushing, shaking, or beating, or unreasonable physical or medicated restraint
  • Emotional abuse, including threatening abuse, yelling or cursing, humiliating, or belittling, or unreasonable seclusion
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect and self-neglect

Common Signs of Physical Abuse or Neglect

Signs that a loved one in a nursing home may be suffering from physical abuse or from neglect can include:

  • Bruises
  • Pressure ulcers/bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Rapid and unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Infections
  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries
  • Other fall injuries
  • Unexplained injuries, or injuries in various stages of healing
  • Bruises or other signs of physical restraint
  • Heavy medication or sedation
  • Frequent trips to the emergency room
  • Injuries or illnesses not promptly reported to family member or the resident’s primary care physician
  • Reluctance to be left alone or to be in the presence of staff members or certain individuals
  • Unsanitary or unclean living conditions
  • Poor hygiene
  • Fear or being touched

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sadly, nursing home residents can fall victim to sexual abuse, which can include rape, unwanted sexual touching, or being exposed for an abuser’s sexual gratification. Signs that someone may be a victim of sexual abuse include:

  • New and unexplained sexually transmitted infections
  • Torn or soiled underwear
  • Injuries or bleeding from intimate areas

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can be just as physically devastating as physical or sexual abuse. Symptoms of an elderly person suffering from emotional abuse include:

  • Unusual mood changes or swings
  • Withdrawal, self-isolation, and loss of interest in activities
  • Agitation or violent outbursts
  • Anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation
  • Reluctance to speak in the presence of staff members
  • Soothing behaviors, such as rocking, sucking, and/or mumbling

Signs of Financial Abuse

Financial abuse can include the theft of a nursing home resident’s property and assets, or coercing or unduly influencing a resident to make financial decisions that benefit the abuser. Signs that a loved one may be the victim of financial abuse include:

  • Missing property, especially jewelry and other valuables
  • Unexplained bank account withdrawals or credit card charges
  • Adding individuals to bank account access
  • Changes to named beneficiaries on financial accounts or in estate planning documents

Contact a Pittsburgh Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today

Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in Pennsylvania, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call (412) 766-1455 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.