Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse: How to Spot the Signs and Get Help

Nursing home neglect and abuse is a grave issue that can severely impact the well-being and dignity of older adults. Understanding its signs and advocating for proper care can help protect loved ones in these institutions.

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Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse: How to Spot the Signs and Get Help
5 Min Read June 6th, 2023

Nursing homes aim to offer a secure and nurturing setting for seniors needing help with daily tasks or continuous medical care. Regrettably, Nursing Home Law Center and other sources indicate that up to 60% of nursing home residents may have suffered abuse, with nearly 15% experiencing neglect. Abuse and neglect in these facilities can lead to severe repercussions for seniors, including physical and emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and potentially, death. Preventing these dire outcomes hinges on identifying the problems and implementing appropriate solutions.

Types of Neglect in Nursing Homes

Nursing home neglect can manifest in numerous ways, such as insufficient food, water, and shelter provision, poor hygiene, and substandard medical care. Such negligence can lead to serious health issues for residents, including malnutrition, dehydration, infections, and unaddressed medical problems.


Understaffing, a prevalent form of neglect in nursing homes, frequently plagues these institutions. Chronic understaffing can inhibit caregivers from delivering the requisite care to residents. Consequently, residents might need more timely help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating or lack necessary medical attention.

Lack of Hygiene

Another variant of neglect in nursing homes involves inadequate hygiene. Seniors incapable of self-care might need help with basic hygiene tasks like bathing, tooth brushing, and clothing changes. If nursing home personnel neglect these tasks, residents can experience infections, skin irritations, and other health complications.


Abuse in nursing homes can manifest in multiple forms, such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Physical abuse may encompass actions like hitting, slapping, or restraining residents. Emotional abuse can involve verbal assaults, isolation, and humiliation. Sexual abuse can range from unsolicited touching to sexual assault or rape.

Causes of Neglect and Abuse in Nursing Homes 

Numerous factors contribute to nursing home neglect and abuse, including:

Staffing Quality 

Staffing issues may compel nursing homes to struggle to attract and retain qualified caregivers, resulting in chronic understaffing and insufficient resources to ensure quality care.

Training Deficiency Neglect and abuse in nursing homes may also stem from inadequate training. Caregivers might not receive the necessary training to adequately care for seniors with complex medical needs, leading to errors and neglect that can harm residents.

Profit Priority

In some cases, nursing homes might prioritize profits over residents' well-being. This profit-centric culture can breed neglect and abuse, where resident needs and safety are compromised for cost-saving measures.

Identifying Neglect and Abuse in Nursing Homes 

Identifying its occurrence is a significant challenge in combating nursing home neglect and abuse. Many seniors are unable or reluctant to report abuse or neglect due to fear of retribution or cognitive inability. Family members might also be unaware of neglect or abuse signs, making intervention difficult. 

Signs to watch for include unexplained injuries, sudden behavioral changes, poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, and untreated medical conditions. It's vital to act immediately if you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home.

Addressing Neglect and Abuse in Nursing Homes 

If you suspect your loved one is experiencing neglect or abuse in a nursing home, there are several actions you can take.

Notify Authorities and Legal Counsel One step is reporting the abuse to the appropriate authorities, such as nursing home management, your state's Health Department, or law enforcement. Additionally, seek legal counsel from an attorney specializing in nursing home abuse cases. They can guide you through the legal process and advocate for your loved one's rights.

Find Better Care

Another step you can take is to move your loved one to a different nursing home. While this can be difficult, ensuring your loved one's safety and well-being may be necessary. When choosing a new nursing home, research and visit the facility in person to ensure that it meets your standards for quality care.

Remember that not everyone needs to be in a nursing home. In-home care, adult day care centers, and assisted living facilities offer quality and comprehensive options. However, the cost of care is growing. Health insurance and Medicare will not pay for most of this care, so without Long-Term Care Insurance, the cost can quickly drain even significant savings.

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Raise Awareness

Finally, it is important to raise awareness about nursing home neglect and abuse to prevent it from happening in the first place. This can involve lobbying for stronger regulations and oversight of nursing homes, supporting organizations that advocate for seniors, and educating others about the signs of neglect and abuse.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse: A Call to Action

Nursing home neglect and abuse are serious issues that must be addressed to protect the safety and well-being of seniors. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an estimated 1 in 10 older adults will experience some form of abuse or neglect during their lifetime. This abuse can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.

Many things can be done to prevent nursing home neglect and abuse. Remember these points:

  • Visit your loved one regularly. This will help you to spot any signs of abuse or neglect.
  • Talk to your loved one about their experiences at the nursing home. Ask them if they are being treated well and if they have any concerns.
  • Be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect. These can include unexplained injuries, weight loss, changes in personality, and social isolation.
  • Report any suspected abuse or neglect to the nursing home administrator. If you are unsatisfied with the response, you can also report it to the state's adult protective services agency.

By taking action to report abuse, seek legal advice, and raise awareness, we can work together to ensure that nursing homes provide the care and support that our loved ones deserve.

Quality long-term health care can be found, even at affordable cost. Long-Term Care Insurance can be helpful in paying for this care. However, even if you are self-funding a loved one's care, take proactive steps to ensure overall quality for the care recipient to enjoy a better quality of life. 

Keep in mind that someone cannot purchase Long-Term Care Insurance when they need care; this is something you obtain ideally before retirement. Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s as part of a comprehensive retirement plan. 

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About the Author

Patricia Lee is a writer with several years of experience working with non-profit organizations. She has extensive knowledge in many areas, including Education, Computer Science, and Psychology.

LTC News Contributor Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee

Contributor since April 17th, 2023

Editor's Note

It is important to remember that quality care is available in nursing homes. However, it can be expensive. If you are planning for retirement, it is crucial to consider long-term health care costs. Long-Term Care Insurance can pay for the cost of care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home. Long-Term Care Insurance can also ease the financial burden on your family.

Have you addressed the consequences of your declining health and aging? The time to plan is best before retirement. For many families, LTC Insurance is the solution. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is custom designed, but the premiums can significantly differ between insurance companies. All insurance companies must file their product details and pricing to the state's insurance department before they are available for consumer purchase.

LTC Specialists are Key to Shopping for Best Coverage

Consulting a professional is crucial when considering Long-Term Care Insurance. A limited number of LTC Insurance specialists are available who understand the nuances of underwriting, policy design, pricing, claims, partnership programs, and other critical aspects of LTC Insurance, and also work with top-tier companies. Remember, no insurance agent or agency can provide special deals.

Look for some of these factors in finding an LTC Insurance specialist:

  • An LTC Specialist will usually have helped at least 100 people or more with LTC Insurance. Be sure to ask; some specialists have helped thousands nationwide.
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  • An LTC Specialist will typically have years or more of experience and hold a Certified in Long-Term Care® designation (CLTC®).
  • An LTC Specialist will understand the current and future cost of long-term health care and how most care is delivered so they can make professional recommendations without "over-insuring" the individual. 
  • An LTC Specialist will offer all types of long-term care solutions, including traditional (including Partnership plans), asset-based "hybrid" policies, and short-term cash indemnity policies. 
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  • An LTC Specialist will typically have firsthand experience helping a client's family in the claim process.

Most people obtain coverage in their 40s and 50s.

Resources on LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS offers news, guidance, and resources to assist you in long-term health care planning. Additionally, LTC NEWS provides reviews of various Long-Term Care Insurance plans. 

Here are some of the resources that are available on LTC NEWS:

Parent’s Health Declining? Do They Need Care Now?

Get quality care for your parents when they require it. LTC NEWS can help. We've put together a few comprehensive guides to help you along the way.

Find help locating quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

Make sure your loved one uses their Long-Term Care Insurance if they are fortunate enough to have it. Families sometimes postpone taking advantage of the benefits thinking family members can provide care, saving the benefits for later when it is deemed "more necessary."

Delaying the use of available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a good idea. The policy provides you with access to quality care when someone needs it. It also gives loved one’s time to family instead of caregivers.

These four guides can be very helpful as you try to find appropriate long-term care services for a loved one:

Today's Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Older Families

Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.

Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.

Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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You can promote yourself, your business, and your website or blog. Email your story idea or article: - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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