Close to one million people in America live in nursing homes or other assisted living facilities. Most of them are not abused or neglected ¾ but even one victim of nursing home abuse is one too many.

If you have a loved one who lives or plans to live in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, you should know the different types of abuse and neglect and be able to recognize their symptoms. Abuse tends to refer to active behavior, and neglect to passive behavior. Given the vulnerability of the populations in question, both can be dangerous and even deadly if left unchecked.

Types of neglect and abuse

  • Dehydration or malnourishment
  • Poor hygiene
  • Falls or signs of other unexpected injuries
  • Over/under-medicating or the wrong medications
  • Poor hygiene
  • Bedsores
  • Emotional, sexual or physical abuse
  • Financial exploitation

Unfortunately, because of dementia or stroke, many nursing home residents can only communicate with difficulty. That means it is up to you, the loved one, to watch attentively for signs of abuse or neglect. These can include:

  • Unusual bleeding or bruising (keeping in mind that many older people become thin-skinned as they age and prone to bruising as a result of medications)
  • Open wounds, burns, bed sores or cuts
  • Abrasions possibly indicating harsh restraint
  • Sudden and unexplained changes in weight or hair loss
  • Infections, particularly skin infections
  • Torn, stained, soiled or bloody clothing or bedding
  • Changes in mood or affect, such as increased depression, withdrawing, infantile behavior or fear in the presence of nursing home personnel
  • Unexplained withdrawal of money from bank accounts still controlled by the nursing home resident.

If you see any of these changes in your loved one, or have any reason to suspect neglect or abuse, pay close attention and begin to document the reasons for your concern. Complain to the facility's management. Then if there are no positive changes, consult with an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer to protect your loved one's rights and get the compensation they need.