The Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

When placing our loved one in a nursing home, we have every intention of selecting a facility that will provide them with the very best care. However, despite our best efforts, abuse and neglect in the home they are placed in can still occur.

Sadly, nursing home residents are typically not forthcoming with information that they are being mistreated out of fear of what will happen if they do report it. Studies show that it is estimated only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever go reported.

Abuse comes in many forms and therefore can be difficult to detect in some instances. It’s important to remain vigilant when visiting your loved one and to be aware of the signs of various types of abuse to ensure they are not being harmed.

Warning Signs of Abuse, by Type, Include:

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

  • Complaints of being poorly treated
  • Strained/tense relationships
  • New depression
  • Withdraw from normal activities
  • Agitation
  • Crying recurrently
  • Sudden change in alertness

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, and abrasions
  • Broken bones
  • Fearful of caregivers

Financial Abuse

  • Sudden changes in finances
  • Unusual use of credit cards
  • Missing possessions
  • Unpaid bills
  • Sudden changes in mood or demeanor


  • Unintended weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Bed sores/pressure ulcers
  • Poor hygiene
  • Not cleaned and changed in a timely manner
  • Staff delay in responding to call bells

Sexual Abuse

  • Development of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Torn, bloody, or stained underwear
  • Bleeding, pain, and/or irritation from the anus or genitals
  • Bruises on the inner thigh or genitals
  • Pelvic injury
  • Difficulty with walking (not pre-existing)

What to do if you Suspect Abuse

If you believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected at their care facility, or if they have passed away unexpectedly and you believe that abuse or neglect was a factor contributing to their death, you may be entitled to compensation.

At Henson Fuerst, we will not stand for abuse or neglect of our elderly community – especially from the care providers that are intended to keep them safe.

If you suspect abuse of a loved one:

  1. Seek medical attention.
    Take your loved one to a hospital or alternative care facility to be examined as soon as possible.  If the nursing staff tries to prevent you from sending your loved one to the hospital, you can call 911 yourself, and contact a North Carolina nursing home abuse attorney at Henson Fuerst immediately.
  2. Report the abuse.
    If your loved one exhibits signs and symptoms of abuse, report the abuse as soon as possible to government authorities.  You should notify: Adult Protective Services of your county Department of Social Services, the Division of Health Services Regulation, and law enforcement.
  3. Document the abuse.
    As soon as you discover signs of abuse or neglect, take pictures of any visible injuries and room conditions. Write down what you observe, with a date and time.  Write down what staff members or other residents tell you, including their names.
  4. Re-locate your loved one.
    If your loved one is being abused, research alternative care options. Finding another facility may take time, so continue to visit your loved one frequently, and continue to document and report any continuing issues.
  5. Contact Henson Fuerst.
    A North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer at Henson Fuerst can investigate the details surrounding your case and help ensure the abuse or neglect is put to an end for the entire facility. Call us at 919-781-1107 today.

*If you suspect that an older adult is at risk of immediate, life-threatening danger call 9-1-1. If you believe that an older adult is being neglected or mistreated contact Adult Protective Services and/or law enforcement. You can also learn more by calling the Elder Abuse Helpline at 1-800-677-1116.

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Raleigh Office

3110 Edwards Mill Rd Suite 100,
Raleigh, NC 27612
P (919) 781-1107
F (919) 781-8048

Rocky Mount Office

2317 Sunset Ave,
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
P (252) 443-2111
F (252) 443-9429

Jacksonville Office

Appointment Only
P (910) 377-7671
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