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Warning Signs of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes

by | Jun 15, 2020 | Firm News

Nursing Home (Warning Signs for Abuse and Neglect).jpg

Abuse and neglect in nursing homes unfortunately takes many different forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation of medication, food, or physical assistance, and financial exploitation.  The National Center on Aging (NCOA) reports that elders who have been abused have a 300 percent higher risk of death compared to those who have not been mistreated.

I.  Signs of Abuse and Neglect

According to the NCOA and the National Center on Elder Abuse, signs of physical abuse include:

Bruising or welts on the skin, especially those appearing on the face or lateral and anterior region of the arms (physically abused elders are more likely to display bruises than seniors injured by accident).

  • Fingerprints or handprints visible on the face, neck, arms, or wrists

  • Burns from scalding or cigarettes

  • Cuts, lacerations, or puncture wounds

  • Sprains, broken bones, or dislocations

  • Internal injuries or vomiting

  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing

  • Appearing disheveled, in soiled clothing, or inappropriately attired for climate

  • Appearing hungry, malnourished, disoriented, or confused

  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases

Signs of neglect include:

  • Bed sores

  • Slips or falls

  • Malnutrition and dehydration, including sudden weight loss

  • Poor hygiene

  • Lack of medical aids such as glasses, a walker, teeth, hearing aids, or medications

  • Disappearing from contact with friends or family

  • Appearing disoriented or confused

  • Appearing disheveled or wearing soiled clothing

  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or insignificance

  • Failing to take prescribed medications or nutritional supplements

  • A resident blaming themselves for problems arising with family or caregivers

Other warnings signs of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment of residents in nursing homes include a resident’s silence and reluctance to communicate, staff refusing to let family visit a resident or delaying visitors who come to see a resident, staff not allowing a resident to be alone with a visitor, and staff asking family and visitors to wait in the hallway while they perform tasks for the resident such as changing clothes or bedding.

II.       Reporting Abuse or Neglect of a Nursing Home Resident

If you or someone you know has been a victim of abuse and neglect in a nursing home, you have several options to report the misconduct.  First, you can call the Illinois Adult Protective Services Hotline at (866) 800-1409.  Second, you can call the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Nursing Home Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-4343.  Finally, if the abuse or neglect concerns a resident in a supportive living facility (SLF), you can call the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services SLF Complaint Hotline at (800) 266-0768.

Adult Protective Services investigates allegations of abuse affecting adults 60 and over.  Once abuse is reported, a case worker may contact the victim and family members to investigate the report.


National Adult Protective Services Association

National Council on Aging

National Center on Elder Abuse, Red Flags of Elder Abuse

Illinois Department of Aging

Illinois Department of Health and Human Services

Illinois Nursing Home Care Act