Signs of Nursing Home Elder Abuse

Elder abuse affects as much as four percent of the retired population every year but fewer than one in 14 cases is reported to the authorities. Signs of elder abuse in Jacksonville and elsewhere are often missed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

As Jacksonville nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers, we see many different types of elder abuse.

On occasions, older people are deliberately attacked and sexually assaulted in nursing homes. However, in many cases the abuse results from negligence. Inexperienced and overworked staff fail to notice illness, malnutrition, dehydration or bed sores. They may fail to give nursing home residents their medication or over-medicate them.

Elderly residents may suffer financial abuse. Their belongings can be stolen and their bank accounts hacked.

It’s important to look for these signs of abuse and to hire a Jacksonville nursing home lawyer at an early stage. Elder abuse in Jacksonville and elsewhere in Florida is more prevalent than most realize.

Many family members are in denial over elder abuse. They don’t think it could possibly happen to their loved one and ignore the tell-tale signs.

Five Types of Elder Abuse in Jacksonville Nursing Homes

Before being able to look for the signs, family members should be familiar with the types of elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

An article in noted the advice given at the recent Pinal County Elder Abuse Conference in Arizona by Special Assistant County Attorney Robert C. Brown, a national expert on the issue.

He noted five basic types of elder abuse: physical, psychological, sexual, financial, and neglect.

Powerful federal and state regulations are in place that require professionals providing service to people over 65 report any suspicions they have of potential elder abuse to the authorities. Professionals like doctors, visiting nurses, social workers, dentists, and law enforcement officers are all required to report suspected elder abuse. Nursing homes in Florida must publish statements of rights to protect their residents.

Types of elder abuse to look out for include:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may be the most obvious kind of abuse but it can go unidentified if an elderly resident is too frightened to report it or if he or she has dementia.

Residents of nursing homes are hit, punched, pinched, kicked, shaken, pushed against walls, and even burned. Residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s may be victimized because staff believe they can be pushed around and bullied without the resident reporting the attack.

Any bruises, sprains or broken bones should be questioned closely by family members. Burns or abrasions are another sign of physical abuse.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse may be more difficult for family members to recognize than physical abuse. The symptoms shown by the victim like being withdrawn or nervous may also be explained by medical problems or the aging process.

Family members should observe the attitude of nursing home staff in the caregiving process. If someone threatens or talks down to their relative or fails to treat the resident respectfully, this may be a sign of psychological abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse at nursing homes is much more prevalent than many family members believe. In 2017, CNN reported large numbers of vulnerable seniors were being sexually abused and raped. The report noted nursing home managers often turn a blind eye to the problem.

Family members should look for signs of sexual abuse like anal or genital infections, difficulty in sitting or walking and bruising of inner thighs.

Financial Abuse

The illegal or improper use of an elder’s assets can take many forms. A resident’s social security or pension check may be cashed without their permission. Money is taken from accounts and the elderly resident might be deceived into parting with assets.

Often fraudsters use power of attorney to rip off elderly residents. Power of attorney recognizes and lets an individual who is usually a trusted relative or family friend make decisions on behalf of a senior who may be sick, frail, handicapped, or incapacitated. Power of attorney affords a massive degree of power and influence to the person it’s given to, as well as considerable potential for financial abuse.

Robert C. Brown told the Arizona conference financial abuse makes up about 12 percent of the abuse committed against elderly people in the United States.

There are some clear telltale signs of financial abuse to look out for. If bank statements are no longer coming to an elderly parent’s home, assets or belongings are missing or the resident appears to be impoverished, financial abuse may be taking place.

Family members should have access to an elderly relative’s bank statements to look for any suspicious activity. If a caregiver appears to have a drug or alcohol habit this could be a red flag for financial abuse.


Neglect is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. Often nursing homes are understaffed or under resourced and staff are inexperienced.

Neglect is the failure of a caregiver to adequately perform his or her obligations. It may include failure to provide medicines, hygiene, food or personal safety. A resident might end up falling or suffering from bed sores.

Signs of neglect to look for include bad hygiene, neglected bed sores, rashes, skin disorders, malnutrition, and dirty clothes and bedding.

Report Nursing Home Elder Abuse in Jacksonville

Elder abuse can be reported to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs or local law enforcement. Contact Florida’s Abuse Hotline at 1(800)96-ABUSE. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Find out more about elder abuse by reading our nursing home FAQs. You can contact our Jacksonville nursing home neglect lawyers at (904) 632-0077.

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