Nursing Home Abuse: Everything You Need to Know About (Updated 2023))

If you and your older adult have convened to talk about the future and decided that the best thing for your older adult’s care is to send them to a nursing home, you likely have a narrative about nursing homes that are still bouncing around in the back of your mind.

Nursing homes don’t have the best reputation in the U.S., and while there may be some out there for which that stigma is undeserved, there are even more where a little extra caution may not be unwarranted.

Because of the prevalence of elder abuse and medical malpractice in U.S. nursing homes, there’s no way to send your older adult to a nursing home without incurring some risk.

However, some nursing homes have amenities that you don’t have, and you may believe that sending your older adult to a nursing home is the best way to treat their conditions and help them live healthy, happy lives.

As such, the key here isn’t to avoid nursing homes entirely: it’s to have a plan in place in case something does happen. For your consideration, here are steps you need to take if your older adult gets injured in an accident on nursing home grounds.

Read More: What Happens When We Age?

Investigate the Cause

Now, it should be said that as older adults get further on in years, they also tend to become more accident prone and more likely to suffer serious injury if they do happen to fall.

It’s very possible that if your older adult happens to fall and hurt themselves, it happened entirely in good faith: the nursing home did their best to keep your older adult safe, but things happen.

Still, situations have occurred where nursing homes have claimed that older adults’ injuries are the result of an entirely different cause, attempting to cloak ongoing physical or sexual abuse under the guise of an ordinary accident.

As such, you’ll want to ask your older adult if the nursing home’s story is true and proceed to check them for injuries that do not match the nursing home’s description of the event.

Some red flags you’ll want to keep an eye out for are as follows:

  • Bruises in strange places. If the nursing home claims that your older adult broke their arm by falling directly on it after slipping on a wet floor, why are there bruises on their back? Or cuts on their opposite arm?
  • If the injuries themselves don’t line up with the supposed cause, you’ll need to investigate.
  • Missing possessions. One common sign of physical and financial abuse is if treasured items that belong to your older adult are missing.
  • If you find that mee-maw’s missing her antique watch or priceless locket, there may be more going on than a mere accident.

If you notice any of these signs, skip straight to step 3. If you don’t, go ahead and proceed to the next step.

Ensure It Doesn’t Happen Again

If you don’t detect any of those signs, or you feel like it may have been an honest accident, your next step should be to make sure that the nursing home is taking appropriate steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

As such, you’ll want to talk to both the person in direct charge of your older adult’s care and the head caretaker at the facility, asking them what the facility plans to do to make sure these things never happen again.

If their answers appear lackluster or lukewarm, you may still want to take your older adult out of that environment.

While you may believe that your home can’t provide the quality of care that your older adult needs, it’s better than sticking them in a potentially negligent nursing home; besides, you might be surprised at the number of at-home care success stories out there.

Call a Legal Professional


If you detect any of the above signs, or if the same accident happens over and over again (another common bad faith tactic, blaming different injuries on the same accident), you’ll want to get in touch with a qualified legal professional as soon as possible.

Counsel at firms such as Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have experience dealing with medical malpractice cases and can make sure that the facility that neglected your loved one is held accountable.

They can work to get you a settlement that will cover your older adult’s healthcare costs, as well as an amount meant to provide compensation for their pain and suffering.

Sending your loved ones to a nursing home can be frightening, even if you’re certain at the time that it’s the best thing for their health.

Having a plan in place for when things go sour can help you feel comfortable with your decision, as well as give you an easy escape route if things don’t work out.

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