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How to Face Nursing Home Abuse: 4 Steps to Dealing with Negligence

Written by: Imelda Bouchard

As our loved ones grow older, they also become less independent and need constant supervision. That’w why most families often turn to nursing homes that should be able to provide the necessary care but compassion and attention as well. Nursing homes are a good option as you can entrust your family member with a group of experts who are trained to deal with the elderly and are prepared for a number of situations.

However, although most nursing homes follow through their duty, there are still instances of nursing homes abusing their power. Unfortunately, nursing homes often abuse their power and this leads to negligence. Knowing how to identify and address these issues is crucial to protecting the well-being of our elderly relatives. 

Families usually feel helpless and don’t know how to act when they get evidence of nursing home abuse. Then, the feeling of anger kicks in and makes things even worse. 

This guide will provide you with essential steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse, helping you navigate this challenging situation effectively and ensuring your loved one receives the care they need.

How do we define nursing home abuse

When people hear the word “abuse”, their mind instantly goes to physical abuse. Nonetheless, abuse doesn’t only refer to physical injuries. It encompasses so much more and you need to be aware of all the potential threats. This abuse can severely impact the health, well-being, and dignity of elderly residents and the sooner you recognize the signs, the better.

Below, you will find the list of all that falls into the definition of nursing home negligence. 

In order to act fast, you need to keep an eye out for some of the most common indicators:

Physical abuse

Unexplained bruises, fractures, cuts, or injuries, as well as signs of restraint marks.Physical abuse is usually the easiest to spot so make sure to look for clues if you start suspecting nursing home abuse. 

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse doesn’t leave any physical marks on the body but it usually leads to a change in the behavior of your loved one. If you notice that your family member is acting differently and becoming withdrawn, that can be a possible sign of abuse. Also, if you see that your close one is fearful, depressed and isolated, they could definitely be a victim of nursing home abuse. 

Emotional abuse is very frequent. In fact, according to a survey done, 81% of nursing home staff stated that they witnessed some form of emotional elder abuse in nursing homes. The percentage is truly staggering and goes to show how serious the issue is. 


Another important sign of nursing home abuse is neglect. A renowned personal injury lawyer from Indianapolis explains that if the resident is unkept and unclean, it’s almost a definite sign of neglect. Poor hygiene, malnutrition and untreated medical issues all fall into the category of nursing home neglect. Your loved one deserves the best care so you need to be quick with recognizing the signs of neglect.

Dealing with nursing home abuse

Once you start suspecting nursing home abuse or if you’ve already gathered some evidence, that’s when you need to start taking action. This is the moment when many get lost and overwhelmed by emotion and fail to take immediate action. And the sooner you report the abuse to the relevant parties, the quicker your loved one will get the attention they need and deserve. 

Document everything

The first step you need to take is to document everything. And when we say everything, we really mean it. Every piece of evidence matters and can help convince the authorities that abuse and negligence have taken place. 

That’s why it’s important to keep detailed records of any signs of abuse. You can include photographs, medical records and also your personal observations. Also, make sure to document your conversations with the staff and note down any attempts that you made to rectify the situation. 

Make sure to keep the records safe and within your reach in case you need to act fast. 

Report your concerns

Before you take any action, it’s important to first contact the nursing home administration and report your concerns. They are the ones responsible for your family member and they should be the first point of contact. If they’re unwilling to cooperate, make sure to follow up with written complaints and request an investigation. If the response is unsatisfactory, escalate the issue to state regulatory agencies or the local ombudsman.

By contacting the nursing home administration, you demonstrate that you took all the necessary steps before escalating the situation. Also, if you fail to get a response from them, that just goes to show that the nursing home is definitely guilty of malpractice.

Seek medical attention

Ensure your loved one receives immediate medical attention for any injuries or health concerns. This is extremely important in serious cases of physical abuse and neglect. Obtain a thorough medical evaluation and document all findings. Make sure to turn to a doctor you trust and have them access the condition of your family member. 

Get legal assistance 

If you’re not that familiar with the law, there’s only so much you can do on your own. If you take up the issue completely independently, you risk making a mistake and failing your loved one. That’s why it’s advisable to consider seeking legal counsel specializing in elder abuse cases. 

Find a personal injury lawyer experienced in the matter and you’ll get all the legal counsel you need. Professional guidance will help you navigate the challenging time and you’ll be at ease knowing your loved one case is in safe hands. An attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and pursue appropriate legal action against the facility if necessary.

The bottom line

Facing nursing home abuse is a difficult and emotionally draining experience, but it is essential to take proactive steps to protect your loved one. By recognizing the signs of abuse, documenting evidence, and seeking professional assistance, you can ensure that your elderly family member receives the care and respect they deserve. 

Advocating for their well-being not only helps your loved one but also contributes to improving standards and accountability in nursing home facilities.

Imelda Bouchard
Imelda Bouchard is the owner of Gov Relations. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration in Finance​ at the University of Houston-Downtown. Imelda has over a decade of experience working in the finance industry. Following her stint at an international fintech company, she has decided to create a platform where businesses can make use of great business ideas.

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