Signs of Nursing Home Abuse to Look For

Before you can report nursing home abuse and save your loved one from a terrifying and potentially life-threatening situation, you must recognize that a situation exists. Again, most victims do not do the reporting themselves; instead, it is up to friends and family members to realize that something is amiss. Visit your loved one often during his or her stay in a nursing home. Be on the lookout for potential red flags for abuse.

  • Unexplained injuries or illnesses
  • Frequent trips to the emergency room
  • Strange bruises or marks on the elderly person
  • Burns, scratches, or strap marks
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Fear or discomfort around certain staff members
  • Unusual behaviors, including mumbling or thumb-sucking
  • Staff members yelling at one another
  • Staff members belittling or berating residents
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pelvic injuries
  • Bloody or torn underwear
  • Malnourishment or dehydration
  • Unsanitary premises
  • Lack of personal hygiene (e.g., dirty adult diapers)

These are just some of the many signs of nursing home abuse and neglect that may be visible in a case. Some situations will involve more than one flagrant red flag of abuse, while others may be subtler. Your loved one may show signs of inexplicable guilt or shame, for example, or stop enjoying daily activities. These can be signs of abuse that are easily missed if you do not visit your loved one often.

Be vigilant in checking for potential abuse and neglect in Kansas City nursing homes. If you do notice anything unusual, speak to an attorney right away.

Nursing Abuse Statistics

Keeping up with how many senior citizens face abuse, neglect, and exploitation can allow experts to track this issue and work toward effective solutions. Unfortunately, the statistics on nursing home and elder abuse are difficult to come by. Research in this subject area began somewhat recently – in the last 20 years. Experts believe statistics are drastically below the reality of the situation, due to the lack of reporting by victims. That being said, some studies and statistics are available.

  • Researchers believe about 1 in 10 elders over the age of 60 have suffered abuse.
  • As many as 24.3% of nursing home residents have experienced at least one instance of physical abuse.
  • Victims only report around 1 in 25 cases of elder abuse, at least according to a study in New York.
  • Around 5.2% of elderly people report financial exploitation involving a family member.
  • Elders are more likely to report financial exploitation than other forms of abuse.
  • Over a two-year period, almost one-third of all nursing homes received citations for violations that could or did cause harm to residents.
  • About 10% of these nursing homes had risks of serious injuries or deaths.
  • Physical abuse happens the most often – around 27.4% of cases.
  • Women are more likely to suffer elder abuse than men are.
  • Studies show as many as 50% of nursing home residents with dementia suffer neglect or abuse.
  • Family members are responsible for around 60% of elder abuse cases.
  • Two-thirds of abuse perpetrators are spouses or adult children.
  • Elders who have suffered abuse are three times more likely to die than those who have not faced mistreatment.
  • The cost of elder financial abuse is from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually.

When you visit our firm, you're not a statistic. A Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer from Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet will take time to get to know you and understand how the incident influenced you and your family. Then, we will tailor a legal solution according to your needs.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Whether you live in a nursing home or have a friend or relative under the care of others, it’s important to understand the various forms and types of nursing home abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves physical force against an individual and usually leads to physical pain, bodily injury, impairment, or visible marks. Common forms of physical abuse include hitting, pushing, shoving, slapping, shaking, kicking, beating, burning, throwing an object, or striking with an object. Other forms of physical abuse in nursing homes include force-feeding, using physical restraint, and any other forms of physical punishment. The signs and symptoms of physical abuse include bleeding, scratch marks, bruises, scabs, discoloration, swelling, broken bones, open wounds, and more.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves any non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly individual. Types of sexual abuse include unwanted touching, sodomy, sexual assault, rape, coerced nudity, and exposure to sexually explicit materials. Signs and symptoms include bruising or bleeding around the breast, anal, or genital area, torn or stained undergarments, genital infections or venereal diseases, and firsthand reports of sexual abuse.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse among the elderly is quite common and includes any illegal or improper use of a person’s assets, funds, or property without consent. Types of financial abuse include cashing checks, withdrawing money from savings accounts, coercing an elderly individual into signing documents, forging signatures, and abusing power of attorney or guardianship responsibilities. Telltale signs of financial abuse include sudden changes in a bank account or banking activity, the addition of foreign names to an elder’s bank card, unauthorized withdrawals of funds, unexplained money transfers, and more.


Neglect is a form of abuse that occurs when a caretaker fails to fulfill obligations and duties. Other types and acts of neglect include refusing to provide necessities like food, water, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, medication, security, and comfort. Signs and symptoms include malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, poor hygiene, unsanitary living conditions, and more.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death describes a situation where a person dies as the result of someone else’s negligence. For example, many people depend on nursing homes or long-term care facilities to provide for their loved ones’ medical needs with diligence, trustworthiness, and dependability. Thus, when a loved one has died unexpectedly in a nursing home, we must question whether the facility or one of its employees is responsible.

Because those in nursing homes are nearing the end of their lives, many don’t investigate the causes of their loved ones’ deaths. However, family members and friends can usually tell if their loved one’s death was unusually sudden, unexplainable, or surrounded by vague circumstances. If a medical professional is unclear about the details of your loved one’s death or can’t answer your questions, it could be a sign of negligence.

Other Forms of Abuse

In addition to these types of abuse, other forms of nursing home abuse include abandonment, emotional or psychological injuries and abuse, and material exploitation. However, anything that puts an elderly individual at involuntary risk can be considered abuse.

Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet cares about Kansas City’s elderly population. We can immediately go to work on your case, relocating your loved one to a safe place and filing a report with the correct authorities in Missouri. We can then begin building a personal injury claim on your loved one’s behalf. A lawsuit could result in financial compensation for economic and non-economic damages.

Do You Believe Your Loved One May Be Experiencing Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect In A Kansas City, Missouri?

If you feel your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect you should speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 816.832.4688 to schedule your free consultation. We are proud to serve Kansas City, Missouri and the surrounding area and look forward to speaking with you.


Robert Norfleet
Helping Kansas City area medical malpractice, car accident, wrongful death and personal injury clients.