Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home abuse and neglect can be extremely difficult for an elderly resident and their family to endure. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents in Florida suffering from abuse do not report it to a supervisor or their family because they are embarrassed by it or fear repercussions. Other times, they do not have the capacity to understand why the abuse is occurring. This is why it is important to know the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Being able to recognize and identify the different types of abuse that occurs in a nursing home can help prevent it from happening or escalating. Types of nursing home mistreatment include:

  • Physical abuse such as hitting or kicking
  • Emotional abuse such as belittling or humiliating
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Financial abuse
  • Healthcare fraud

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

The warning signs of nursing home abuse can vary case by case. However, there are some common warning signs associated with each type of abuse.


In the case of physical abuse, sudden and unexplained injuries or medical conditions are the most common signs. For example, broken bones, sprains, bruises, and burns may indicate elderly abuse.


Signs of emotional abuse are not as easy to detect. Emotional abuse typically causes an elder to withdraw from social activities, and their loved ones may notice a sudden change in their behavior. If a resident’s caregivers are verbally harsh or seem uncaring or even demeaning, they may be inflicting emotional abuse. Nursing home staff may also restrict visits from family and friends, which is another sign that emotional abuse could be occurring.


Unless a resident’s loved ones help them with personal grooming and hygiene, sexual abuse is often even harder to identify than physical or emotional abuse. Bruising and swelling around the genitals is a common warning sign of sexual trauma. If a resident is diagnosed with an unexplained sexually transmitted disease, that could also be cause for concern.

Caregiver Neglect

Neglect and abandonment involve a staff member’s failure to care for a resident by leaving them alone for significant periods of time. When a resident is not receiving their medication on time or their personal hygiene is failing, these are indications of neglect that may warrant a lawsuit. Residents who seem malnourished and dehydrated or have developed bedsores may warrant civil litigation against the facility and its staff. Additionally, unsanitary living conditions could also be a sign of caregiver neglect.


Financial abuse occurs when nursing home staff members steal money or property from a resident or manipulate them into giving up something of value. The most common signs of financial abuse include unpaid bills despite a history of punctual payments as well as when a resident forfeits control of their financial affairs to a caregiver. If a resident gives extravagant gifts to non-relatives, they could be a victim of financial abuse.

Healthcare Fraud

Some nursing homes use their residents’ information to commit healthcare fraud. In these instances, a resident may receive unnecessary medical treatment or have to undergo multiple diagnostic tests. If caregivers are unable to explain why a specific treatment was needed, they may have committed healthcare fraud. Loved ones may also notice bills from insurance companies or medical providers for services that were never rendered.