Abuse in Nursing Homes: What It Is and How to Report It

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities regularly mistreat elders. When victims don’t realize there’s a problem, it’s much less likely to be reported.

Patients in nursing homes may lack the mental or physical faculties to recognize mistreatment. As a result, it is usually up to staff members or the family to identify the problem and file a complaint.

Alert the authorities immediately if you suspect an older person is being abused at a nursing facility. A person’s life may be saved if you assist them in their time of need. Taking on the assistance of reliable nursing home abuse lawyers is also wise. Recently, research has shown a severe problem with elder abuse in care homes.

According to one study, approximately 24 incidences of elder abuse go unreported for everyone that is recorded. And although just one in every 58 incidences of abuse is recorded, neglect is considerably more common. The World Health Organization also argues that COVID-19 has increased senior abuse.

If you have an elderly relative in a nursing facility, you must watch out for signs of abuse. If you or someone you care about is being abused, call one of the organizations listed immediately.

Attorneys for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse

You may wish to see attorneys for nursing home abuse if you or a loved one has experienced any kind of elder mistreatment. Reputable nursing home abuse lawyers know how to report nursing home abuse. Long-term care homes might provide financial reimbursement for your medical bills and other costs.

What to Do If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect at a Nursing Home?

Abuse in nursing homes is an all-too-common issue that may have devastating effects. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) encourages a timely report of suspected abuse.

1.  Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse in nursing homes may present itself overtly or subtly. It’s possible that your loved one isn’t ready to come clean about what’s bothering them, and they’ve begun to isolate themselves.

They may flat-out refuse to discuss the possibility of abuse. This is why it is so important to know how to recognize the following indicators of elder abuse at a nursing home:


Your loved one is not being rotated or moved throughout the day if you see bedsores on their body. In the elderly and those with metabolic illnesses like diabetes, bedsores are painful, contagious, and slow to cure.

Infections and illnesses with no known cause

There’s always the chance of someone catching an illness when you live in close contact with other people. If your healthy loved one develops significant diseases or a preventable ailment, nursing home abuse may be the cause.

Bleeding, bruises, or cuts

Bruises and wounds are not always the result of neglect; they may sometimes result from intentional harm. It may even be physical violence. Staff incompetence is a possible form of nursing home abuse. Whatever the case, it should serve as a warning that something isn’t right.

Alterations in one’s manner of behaving

Hostility, withdrawal, crying, or despair may suggest nursing home maltreatment. Your loved ones may be assaulted by staff or fellow residents. They may not feel safe talking to you about what’s going on in their life.

Unsanitary conditions

Nursing homes exist to ensure that our loved ones may maintain the highest quality of life possible. Support includes assisting with personal cleanliness. If you have seen unsanitary conditions, it may indicate elder mistreatment at a care facility.

A change in their will or financial difficulties

A nursing home may be harming your loved one if they are missing money or have changed their will to give everything to someone else. Theft and misuse of financial resources are severe issues in nursing facilities.

Weight loss or dehydration

Lack of water may be fatal. Dehydration or unexplained weight loss in a loved one are two symptoms that may indicate neglect or abuse in a nursing home.

To put it bluntly, the items on this list are not all there is when it comes to nursing home abuse. Keep a watchful eye on your family member’s actions and environment. If they tell you anything is wrong, you should believe them.

2.  Record All Instances of Abuse

Take careful notes on any suspicious behavior. Taking pictures could be necessary. You may use either a regular camera or a mobile device. Putting it in writing can also be required. Keep a journal to use as evidence if you go to a lawyer or file a complaint of nursing home abuse.

3.  Contact the Authorities If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, notify police, doctors, elder activists, and attorneys.

Local Authorities

Calling 911 is the quickest and most vital method to report nursing home abuse law.

The US Department of Health and Human Services advises calling 911 for older people in urgent danger. Dialing 911 ensures rapid assistance in an emergency.

Two reasons make this crucial:

  • The quicker a victim can be treated, the better.
  • It alerts authorities that a nursing facility may be endangering the lives of elderly residents

Reporting nursing home abuse to another local entity is more appropriate if the situation is not an emergency. For instance, you may get in touch with the Adult Protective Services (APS) office in your state.

The APS looks into allegations of abuse and tries to implement reforms where possible.

Eldercare Locator

Inputting a ZIP code into the Eldercare Locator allows families to discover local elder advocacy programs.

Information on shelter, protection, and travel is included as well. The Eldercare Locator is available to families on the internet at eldercare.acl.gov and by telephone on 1-800-677-1116.

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) was created in 1988 to connect the mistreated elderly with help.

The NCEA counsels and refers to elder abuse victims but does not investigate. The NCEA also tries to educate the public and carries out studies regarding elder abuse.

Professionals in the Medical Field

Medical professionals may be able to tell whether a nursing home patient’s injuries resulted from an accident or abuse.

A patient at a care home in 2018 had shattered bones and severe wounds after spending just three weeks there. They said she scratched herself with a coat hanger, but physicians didn’t believe them.

Later, a worker at the elderly home was given a 12-year jail term for her role in the attack.

Ombudsman for Long-Term Care

Long-term care ombudsman are another resource for reporting mistreatment in nursing homes.

The ombudsman’s role is to advocate for the rights of those residing in nursing homes. An Ombudsman helps residents with issues with the facility, its employees, or other caregivers.

The roles of an ombudsman in long-term care are:

  • Update nursing home residents about recent legislative changes
  • Actively and attentively listen to the worries of both the person and their loved ones
  • A resource listing many forms of long-term care
  • Help ensure the well-being of residents by addressing any threats to their security and happiness

A Long-Term Care Ombudsman program exists in every 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

4.   Confidential Information Disclosure

A 2019 GAO investigation indicated that nursing home residents might fear reprisal from staff.

Thankfully, there are ways to ensure the privacy of those who report nursing home abuse. Unless the complainant chooses differently, ombudsmen keep complaints confidential.

Before you report anything, find out whether your identity will be protected.

Reports of Abuse at Nursing Homes

A 2018 National Center on Elder Abuse report found that one to two million elders were hurt, exploited, or mistreated by caregivers.

About one in ten nursing home residents will be abused at some point, and more than one in twenty-five will be injured directly due to abuse.

In the United States, issues related to the exploitation, abuse, and neglect of the elderly are prevalent and must be addressed. As reported by the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, one in ten seniors in the United States is abused each year.

Nursing home employees are responsible for offering high-quality care to their patients. The effects of abuse and neglect on a person’s life may be devastating.


Having reported the abuse, the next step is finding a lawyer with expertise in instances involving nursing home abuse. The patient also requires a transfer to a different nursing facility. Although this may cause anxiety for the resident, it is necessary for their health.

However, before relocating an aging family member to a new residence, it is crucial to do a thorough nursing home evaluation to ensure a smooth transition. Preventing more instances of abuse is vital.