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Noticing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse and neglect in Hollywood and across southern Florida can be difficult to spot. If you have a loved one residing in a retirement home, nursing home, or any assisted living facility, you may wonder whether your family member is getting the care they require.


Each year, elder abuse claims are filed against caregivers and nursing homes and in many cases the neglect goes on for some time before being detected. Victims may be embarrassed about their situation, frightened of their abusers, or unable to get help. In many cases, it is family and friends visiting loved ones who notice signs of abuse.

Would you be able to spot nursing home abuse?

Signs of nursing home abuse can include:

  • Unexplained bruises, lacerations, and other injuries. Any injuries should be investigated. Physical abuse can leave bruises as well as other injuries, so physical symptoms should never be ignored.
  • Unexplained weight loss. If a loved one is not getting enough to eat or suffers neglect in a nursing home, they may lose weight rapidly. If they are being abused in any way, they may lose their appetite and lose weight as a result.
  • STIs. STIs can indicate sexual assault or sexual abuse.
  • Difficulty with mobility. Sometimes, bruises and other injuries from abuse get hidden behind layers of clothes. However, you may still notice that a loved one is having difficulty moving, is flinching, or is otherwise moving differently.
  • Bed sores. Bed sores are almost always preventable and can be a sign of neglect.
  • Poor grooming and body odor. Residents in a nursing home should be getting support to shower, bathe, and take care of personal grooming tasks. If they are being abused or neglected, they may have an odor or may show signs of poor grooming, such as unkempt hair or untrimmed fingernails. In addition, someone who is being neglected may not be wearing clean clothing or appropriate clothing for the weather.
  • Withdrawal or personality changes. Being physically, financially, or emotionally abused is traumatic and someone who experiences this form of abuse or any type of neglect may suffer from personality changes, mood swings, or simply withdrawal from others. If you notice a loved one being moody, not wanting to communicate, or exhibiting other unusual symptoms, ask for an explanation and ask for an evaluation by a medical professional.
  • Sudden loss of savings. An elderly person who’s being financially abused may suddenly develop money problems. Despite a pension or retirement savings, they may simply not have enough for basic needs. Some of their prized possessions or other valuables may disappear.
  • Sudden changes in wills, assets, and beneficiaries. Sometimes, seniors are pushed or bullied into changing the beneficiaries on their life insurance or other benefits packages or are pressured into changing their wills or signing over property. If a loved one suddenly starts making significant financial changes that don’t make much sense to the family, it’s time to investigate more closely.
  • Lack of engagement with others or the environment. Someone who seems drowsy, fatigued, and isn’t engaging with the environment should be checked for any physical ailments. Sometimes, lack of engagement, slurred speech, and drowsiness can indicate medical abuse, such as overmedication.

If you see an elderly loved one with any symptoms such as these, it’s important to investigate fully. If you believe elder abuse or nursing home abuse is taking place and is affecting your family member, contact local authorities or contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation. The attorneys at Flaxman Law Group have more than six decades of combined experience and we work hard to protect families in Hollywood and in other communities across southern Florida.