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Often, families of nursing home residents ask, “Is that abuse?” The answer obviously depends on the situation. However, if you feel as though the care and treatment being given to your loved one falls below an acceptable standard, it is always best to investigate it further.

The second question is usually, “Am I overreacting?” You are not overreacting. Abuse and neglect are unacceptable and illegal. There is no better advocate for an individual in a nursing home than their family and friends. When a person enters a nursing home they are entering into a contract with that nursing home which indicates that they will pay for care and in return receive appropriate care and treatment. A person living in a nursing home has given up a large amount of autonomy and they may be dependent on the nursing home staff for all of their physical, medical, nutritional and emotional needs. The resident has essentially made the facility their home. As such, we cannot accept, condone or overlook mistreatment. The only way to try and dissuade these inappropriate actions is to hold nursing homes and their staff accountable.

There are numerous signs and symptoms of abuse which can include but are by no means limited to: broken bones, falls, bedsores/pressure ulcers, unexplained injuries, lack of proper hygiene, bruises/contusions, intimidation, anxiety regarding treatment, unexplained reactions to certain caregivers and fear. If you witness any of these signs of potential abuse you should consider investigating it further and taking appropriate action if you believe abuse and/or neglect are occurring.


  1. Gravatar for Pam Egan

    If you have to ask if something constitutes abuse, there's a better-than-good chance it very well might. The unfortunate thing about nursing homes is that the family of suspected victims cannot be on hand to monitor what's going on 24/7.

    My father still lives at home, and I have no plan to send him to a nursing home anytime soon. Advances in home medical equipment products are such that the home environment can now be modified to be "senior friendly", which can prolong the time elderly individuals are able to safely live at home by several years.

    In any case, I enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gravatar for Shayna Slater

    Hi Pam,

    Thank you for your comments. I agree that families cannot be on hand to monitor their loved one 24/7. They also shouldn't have to do. The nursing home should take proper care of its residents. We must demand that our elderly population receive proper treatment. Thank you.

    Shayna Slater

  3. Gravatar for Rick Shapiro

    As America's baby boomers age, nursing homes will see a surge in enrollment. We have already seen some cases where the elderly patient suffered a drastic mood change, and it was their way of communicating a problem.

  4. Gravatar for Shayna Slater

    Hi Rick,

    Thank you for your post. I absolutely agree. I have seen elderly residents, especially those with a cognitive decline, suffer behavioral changes which communicated a problem. Also, when residents repeatedly act differently towards a particular person who is caring for them at the nursing home, there may be a reason behind that reaction.

    Shayna Slater

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