Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

You can greatly contribute to your relative’s or your friend’s well-being in a nursing home or an assisted living facility by monitoring the situation whenever you visit. Your suspicions should be aroused if you are delayed in visiting the patient during normal visiting hours or even being denied access. If a staff member insists on staying with you during your entire visit, it may indicate that something is amiss and that they could be trying to hide something.

Possible Physical Abuse

• Injuries, such as bruises, restraint marks, fractures
• Sudden weight loss
• Bedsores
• Dehydration
• Over sedation or over medication

Possible Verbal Abuse

• Depression or anger displayed very often
• Apprehension or fear around strangers or specific individuals
• Tending to blame themselves for small problems
• “False dementia” which involves repeated sucking, mumbling, or rocking motions

Possible Sexual Abuse

• Bleeding or bruises in the genital area
• Torn underclothing
• Sexually Transmitted Disease occurrence

Signs of Financial Abuse

• Loss of personal property
• Frequent withdrawals of money from the patient’s bank accounts
• Recent changes to the patient’s wills, trusts, deeds, or power of attorneys
• New mortgages, loans, or contracts
• Making donations, large purchases, or hiding money
• Unfamiliar credit card charges or statements from unknown credit cards
• New beneficiary changes to life insurance or annuities
• A notice is received of the discharge from the home for arrears in payments
• The caregiver demands or asks for money or gifts
• Any patient covered by Medicaid is not receiving their Personal Needs Allowance (PNA)
• Your helper or caretaker does not provide the patient’s bank statements, does not pay bills as expected, or does not pay for the facility care

National Center for Elder Abuse
University of Illinois Extension, Elder Abuse & Neglect