How to Spot Abuse in Nursing Homes

Recent news of a local, Kansas nursing home employee raping a 86-year-old resident reminds us how often nursing home abuse happens. It is important to recognize and understand the warning signs. Common signs of abuse can be classified into two categories: emotional and physical. Being aware of your loved one’s emotional and physical status is important and can help you determine whether they are exhibiting any of the following signs of abuse:

Emotional Signs of Nursing Home Abuse:

Mood swings and emotional outbursts

Reclusiveness or refusal to speak

Refusal to take medications or eat

Unusual or sudden changes in behavior (fear of being touched, sucking, biting and rocking)

Poor physical appearance or lack of cleanliness

Physical Signs of Nursing Home Abuse:

Bed sores

Bruising, cuts or welts

Broken bones or fractures


Head injuries

Unexplained weight loss or weight gain (signs of malnutrition)


Frequent infections

Unexplained illness or infections

When you notice these changes in your loved one, the first step should be to contact the nursing staff to understand the problems. However, if you find it is difficult to get into contact with staff at the nursing facility, this can also be a sign of a problem. Lack of staff support is a common underlying cause of inadequate care. If it is clear that you have spotted signs of abuse, don’t hesitate to intervene. This may include making a hotline complaint to the licensing agency in the state. Contact an attorney and they will assist you by listening to your problems, looking at the facts, and advising you on the best decisions.