When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse: Warning Signs


It’s among one of the most heart-wrenching decisions. However, the time may come when you need to place an aging parent or another close relative in a long-term care facility. To make matters worse, you should be attuned to a sad reality. Make sure you recognize the warning signs of nursing home abuse.

No doubt you took your time in selecting the best place for your loved one. However, advanced age brings on a host of issues. Elderly residents often have problems with mobility. Hearing and sight both decline with age. And, of course, cognitive abilities may be compromised as part of the aging process.

Generally speaking, the level of care your loved one needs dictates the type of facility you select to make them comfortable.  Nursing homes provide healthcare to residents who are unable to care for themselves. In the meantime, some long-term care nursing facilities offer particularized attention for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging advocates for the protection of aging members of the population. In fact, their Ombudsman Program focuses on improving long-term living systems for residents.  Additionally, the State also mandates employees and administrators of nursing home facilities to report suspicions of abuse.


Change is not easy at any age. However, elderly relatives may feel particularly challenged when moving into a nursing home. They not only say goodbye to familiar surroundings. In a very large sense, they lose their independence – and the life they once knew.

The adjustment period could bring on personality and behavior changes. For example, a once vibrant person might suddenly become withdrawn. This is not necessarily an indication of abuse. However, consider these signs that something might be wrong:

  • Nursing home resident cowers when a caregiver enters the room
  • The patient complains of bullying or feels threatened
  • Staff demeans or yells at the resident
  • Your visits appear monitored

In some cases, psychological or emotional abuse may be subjective. Your loved one could complain about being ignored or isolated from others. However, the warning signs of physical abuse in a nursing home often speak for themselves.

Physical Abuse or Neglect

Unfortunately, signs of physical abuse or neglect can be devastating. This could be particularly frustrating if you entrusted a nursing home because you could not take care of your aging family member at home.  Some issues for concern include the following:

  • Overmedication also referred to as chemical restraints
  • Physical restraints without explanation
  • Bed Sores
  • The patient left lying in feces and urine
  • Unexplained bruises, broken bones and other injuries

Unfortunately, the National Council on Aging reports that as many as 5 million older people are abused on an annual basis. The risk increases when seniors are isolated from their families and suffer some mental impairment.


At Fellerman & Ciarimboli, we share in your concerns regarding nursing home abuse. We would like to help you investigate any claims you have regarding abuse or neglect. Contact us to see how we can assist you.

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