How to Recognize Signs of Negligence at a Nursing Home

by Molly P. on June 16, 2013

It is an unfortunate fact that many elderly adults have been abused by caregivers in a variety of settings. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities pose a particular issue, since loved ones are usually not in the vicinity, making seniors more vulnerable to abuse. Therefore, loved ones need to be aware of this problem and train themselves to look for signs of abuse. Only in this way will they be able to ensure that their loved ones are always receiving the best care possible. StatisticsAccording to the attorneys at, some of the most common forms of nursing home abuse are “medication errors, improper treatment of residents by staff and/or nurses, slip and fall cases, [and] failure to treat new conditions.” There are millions of residents living in U.S. nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The American Association for Justice says a stunning 90 percent of U.S. nursing home staffing levels are considered too low to provide proper care for those in elder care facilities. It is no surprise, then, that elders in 1 of 3 nursing homes have been found to have been abused or neglected. Because this abuse is considered medical malpractice, nursing homes and assisted living facilities consistently hold the highest records of medical malpractice claims in the nation.

Typically, there are only around 20,673 formal complaints made of gross neglect, abuse or exploitation on behalf of nursing home residents annually. Also, it is estimated that only 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse are ever reported to proper authorities. In fact, over 40 percent of elder abuse violations are reported only after formal complaints are made from residents, families or community advocates. Part of the reason for this is that a large degree of elder abuse goes unnoticed. There are a number of reasons for this:

a. The abuse goes undetected by loved ones
b. The senior is too confused to notice the abuse
c. The senior is fearful of creating problems or believes it is his or her fault

Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse

Below are some of the signs to be aware of with regard to elder abuse or neglect:

1. Changes in behavior
2. Obvious signs of neglect: soiling, unkempt appearance
3. Dehydration
4. Apathy or discontent
5. Fearfulness


The best avoidance of nursing home neglect and abuse begins with carefully selecting elder care facilities. Aside from the typical location, cleanliness and availability of activities and staff, loved ones should take the time to investigate the facility’s history of complaints, licensing and abuse at resources like the National Database of Performance Evaluations of Nursing Homes. By learning the warning signs of elder abuse and knowing what the risk factors are, it can be dealt with before a devastating catastrophe occurs.

Handling Suspected Abuse or Negligence

Anyone who suspects that an elderly person is at any risk due to neglectful or overwhelmed care givers, or is being preyed upon financially, should investigate the situation. Document all information including time, place, form and event with names and complete details. Discuss concerns with nursing home staff. If the staff seems at all apathetic, it is usually a sign that the problems suspected are probably occurring.

For any situation that is not resolved sufficiently, loved ones should make arrangements to find alternative care for their senior as soon as possible. Also, it is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to find out how to correct the situation and protect the rights of their loved one.

Formerly a Health Information Technician, author Molly Pearce writes to raise awareness on the prevalence of medical malpractice, particularly nursing home abuse. Price Benowitz LLP, a Virginia personal injury firm located on the web at, has been serving as representation to those injured as a result of medical malpractice for the past 15 years. Partner Thomas Soldan, Virgina native attorney experienced in this practice area, is currently President of the Fauquier County Bar Association and an active member of the Virginia Bar Association.
Molly P.

Molly P.

Born with a passion for art, music, fun, fashion, adventure, blogging, and life lived to the fiercest! A great variety of educational, professional, and personal experience has gifted me an open mind, strong heart, and a wealth of stories to tell. Concerned with human rights and the state of the natural world. Thriving on the fresh, thoughtful, healthy, and hilarious.

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