Concerned for Your Older Adult? Know the Signs of Abuse in Nursing Homes

It’s never an easy decision to consider long-term care for a parent or loved one. But even though we may wish differently, some of us simply aren’t equipped with the skills or the means to care for an elderly loved one.

A nursing home is often the last resort when our elderly loved ones can no longer care for themselves. And this is often seen as the best decision in certain cases. But unfortunately, some nursing homes employ those who are uncompassionate and abuse their elderly residents.

Elderly abuse in assisted living centers and nursing homes should never be tolerated. And this is ultimately the responsibility of the management team and the nursing home itself.

But fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs of abuse in nursing homes, and knowing these signs is critical to ensuring that your elderly loved ones are being properly cared for: and knowing when to seek recompense if they aren’t.


One of the most fundamental aspects of prioritized patient care is to ensure that a patient is as comfortable as possible. And neglect in this area can be easily seen in the event of bedsore development.

A bedsore develops when enough pressure is applied to the skin to cut off blood flow. And this can occur in as short of a time as 2 to 3 hours.

At first, a reddening of the skin will develop, followed by a sore that looks a lot like a blister. These sores can eventually turn purple and break open which invites infection. And infected bedsores can cause serious complications, even resulting in amputation of limbs if left untreated.

Bedsores are common in nursing home neglect cases due to many patients being immobile for long durations of time and are most commonly located on the back, legs, back or the head and the buttocks.

Frequent Bruising

Frequent bruising or bruises that look inflamed are often signs of abuse by nursing home staff. But you also have to be aware that many elderly patients fall frequently and can bruise easily later in life.

Nonetheless, if you begin noticing while visiting a loved one that they have frequent or inflamed bruises, this is still a reason to be concerned.

Often, the elderly in nursing homes (depending on their condition) might require handling to get in and out of wheelchairs or in and out of bed. Bruising can occur this way as well. But large bruises and bruises that appear on the face, ribs, neck, or the head are often signs of abuse from slapping or punching.

If you suspect abuse due to frequent bruising, consult the management staff immediately and report the incident to the proper authorities.


Many of our elderly citizens require a variety of medications later in life. And these can include  anything from stool softeners to narcotic pain medication and sedatives. But abuse of medication, specifically over-medicating a patient, is a common trend in nursing homes across the country.

It’s crucial for you to know exactly what type of medication your elderly loved one has been prescribed and how frequently they’re supposed to be taking it. This is step one in interpreting whether or not one is being abused.

If you begin to notice that your loved one is unresponsive during visitations or is heavily sedated whenever you go to visit, this is reason for concern, especially if this was not the case when they first entered the nursing home.

If you suspect over-medication, talk to your loved one’s doctor to understand what medications are being used and why. And if things don’t add up, it’s time to notify the authorities and take legal action.

If you believe that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, don’t wait around for rock-solid evidence to manifest. Take proactive steps. Visit frequently and make your presence known. And if you suspect abuse, contact management, remove your loved one if possible, and the authorities immediately.