Signs of Abuse


Elder Abuse

Physical abuse can be as extreme as assault and battery or rape – or may consist of forced restraint, either by mechanical or chemical means (such as administration of psycho-pharmaceutical drugs not authorized by a doctor).

Emotional abuse may include insults, humiliation, threats, and attempts to frighten the resident; it can also be a crime of omission, as when the resident is ignored, disregarded, and/or isolated against his or her will.

Neglect can consist of withholding food, water, and/or medication as well as failure to change bedding or take care of hygiene needs.

Obvious signs to look for include:

  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • open wounds, sores or cuts
  • burns and abrasions
  • sudden and unexplained change in weight
  • soiling, poor hygiene, smell of urine or feces
  • infections
  • loss of hair
  • torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding

Less obvious signs may consist of:

  • listlessness or unresponsiveness
  • infantile or other strange behaviors
  • physical or emotional withdrawal
  • disappearance of personal items
  • sudden and unusual financial transactions

If you note any of these signs you may have questions on what to do. First you should begin by notifying the facility management.

More Red Flags

If you arrive at a facility to visit a resident during regular visiting hours and the staff refuses or delays access – or a staff member refuses to leave the room during your visit – these may be signs that they are hiding something. Again, it is important to begin by registering your concerns with the management.

Nursing Home Abuse

What is nursing home abuse?

Abuse can take many forms - from emotional and financial abuse and neglect to physical assault. Some of our most vulnerable elders are the most susceptible to abuse, including those with dementia or disabilities. No matter what form it takes, nursing home abuse is illegal and needs to be stopped.

Incidents of nursing home abuse are rarely reported to the proper authorities. Residents may be reluctant to complain for fear of retaliation or embarrassment, and family and friends of the victim might be unaware of the common signs of abuse.

Examples or Nursing Home Abuse:


Bed-Related Strangulation Suffocation





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©Mary Buonanno, Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved