The elderly should be able to live out their last years with peace and dignity. But unfortunately, many elders suffer from abuse in nursing homes. Statistics indicate that about one out of every ten elderly individuals experience some form of abuse, but the actual number of abused elderly is likely much higher.

Many nursing home abuse cases go unreported because elderly individuals can’t communicate their experiences properly. That means nursing home employees and family members should be extra vigilant. To prevent oversight, here’s an outline of the most common signs of elder abuse in nursing homes.

Physical Abuse

Any form of harm or violence that causes an injury to an elderly individual is physical abuse. Some examples would be kicking, slapping, and scratching. The elderly are much weaker than younger people, and any instance of physical abuse can cause long-term issues that can take months to resolve. Abuse can even lead to an untimely death.

To make sure elder physical abuse doesn’t go unnoticed, look out for these signs:

  • Sprains, broken bones, or dislocated joints
  • Bruises, especially on the arms
  • Burns from cigarettes or appliances
  • Loss of teeth or hair
  • Any strange injury
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Any negative shifts in behavior
  • The caregiver’s inability to explain the injury
  • A tense relationship between the caregiver and elderly individual

Emotional Abuse

The elderly can be emotionally abused, as well. Verbal harassment and psychological manipulation are also considered elder emotional abuse. Some examples are insulting, yelling, threatening, and bullying. It’s one of the most common forms of abuse that elderly individuals endure, leaving them with long-lasting mental health issues. It can lead to depression, anxiety, dementia, and PTSD.

Emotional abuse may be hard to spot, but here are the signs to look out for: 

  • Fear of their caregiver
  • Being withdrawn or shyer than usual
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Not making eye contact
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Mumbling
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Self-neglect or self-harm
  • Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns 
  • Controlling or threatening behavior from the caregiver

Sexual Abuse

Elder sexual abuse is any sexual contact with an elderly individual who is unable to express their disapproval. The most common victims are those who suffer from dementia or memory loss and are typically older than 60. Most of the time, they fail to report the sexual abuse they endured because of their mental condition.

It’s all too easy for elder sexual abuse to go unnoticed, but there are physical and emotional telltale signs:

  • A pelvic injury 
  • Inability to sit or walk
  • Genital infections or a sexually transmitted disease
  • Bruises on the genitals or inner thighs
  • Bleeding from the genitals or anus
  • Ripped, stained, or bloody underwear
  • Seeming agitated or withdrawn
  • Panic attacks or PTSD
  • Suicide attempts


Unfortunately, elder abuse isn’t limited to physical, emotional, and sexual forms. Caregiver neglect falls under the umbrella of abuse, too, and can occur in many ways:

  • Hazardous living conditions such as faulty electrical wiring, no heater, and no running water 
  • Dirty living conditions such as soiled clothes and bedding 
  • Clothing that’s inappropriate for the weather  
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Lack of proper hygiene
  • Bedsores from not being turned over

Financial Abuse

Given their declining physical and mental health, the elderly might entrust their finances to the people around them. But this can lead to others taking advantage of this situation for personal gain. Financial exploitation is the most challenging form of abuse to detect, but these signs can help you catch it:

  • Unusual withdrawals from the elderly individual’s bank account
  • Sudden changes in wills, property titles, and insurance policies
  • Cash and other items disappearing from elderly individual’s room
  • Unusual purchases of goods and services 


If you have a loved one in a nursing home, visit as often as possible and pay attention to all the little details. If they’ve been abused or neglected, seek legal help. For assistance, you can contact Friedman Law Offices at +1 (800)876-1093.