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Nursing Home Abuse: Understanding Your Rights and Protecting Your Loved Ones

By: Jeff Powless March 12, 2024 no comments

Nursing Home Abuse: Understanding Your Rights and Protecting Your Loved Ones

The decision to entrust a loved one’s care to a nursing home is never easy. These facilities promise professional care and support as our family members age. Sadly, the heartbreaking reality is that nursing home abuse is a serious and far too common issue. If you have a loved one in a care facility, it’s vital to understand the signs of abuse and how to protect their well-being.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 defines abuse as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.” While this definition might seem straightforward, nursing home abuse comes in many forms:

  • Physical Abuse: Hitting, shoving, kicking, improper use of restraints, or any action that causes bodily harm.
  • Emotional Abuse: Humiliation, yelling, threats, unreasonable isolation, or actions intended to cause emotional distress.
  • Financial Abuse: Theft of money or possessions, fraudulent charges, or pressuring a resident to change financial documents like wills or powers of attorney.
  • Sexual Abuse: Any non-consensual sexual contact, inappropriate touching, or sexually suggestive comments or actions.
  • Social Media Abuse: Posting degrading photos, videos, or comments about a resident online without their consent.

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Identifying abuse can be difficult, as victims may be afraid to speak up or unable to do so due to cognitive decline. Pay close attention to these potential signs:

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, or other injuries.
  • Bedsores or signs of poor hygiene.
  • Sudden changes in behavior, such as withdrawal, fearfulness, depression, or anxiety.
  • Missing belongings or unusual financial transactions.
  • Staff who refuse to leave you alone with your loved one.

It’s Time to Act

If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, don’t hesitate! Nursing homes have a legal duty to care for their residents, and any form of abuse is unacceptable. Taking swift action is important for several reasons:

  • Protect your loved one: The sooner abuse is addressed, the sooner your loved one can be moved to a safe environment.
  • Preserve evidence: Critical evidence might be lost or altered over time.
  • Meet legal deadlines: Statutes of limitations (time limits for filing a lawsuit) apply in nursing home abuse cases.

Getting Help and Seeking Justice

Experienced attorneys specializing in nursing home abuse cases can help you navigate this difficult situation. The Powless Law Firm offers free consultations and works on a contingency fee basis – you pay no fees unless we successfully recover compensation for your loved one.

Don’t let your loved one suffer in silence.  Learn more about nursing home abuse and your legal options, contact the Powless Law Firm to have a legal specialist review your case and answer your questions, by phone at (877) 769-5377 or request a consultation here.

〉 Important Note: This blog aims to provide general information.  Laws vary by state, and it’s essential to seek legal counsel for specific advice related to your situation.


Jeff Powless is an attorney and the author of the 2017 book, Abuses and Excuses: How To Hold Bad Nursing Homes Accountable.  Abuses and Excuses breaks new ground in helping patients and families hold bad nursing homes accountable, sharing a wealth of insider strategies and insights. It’s an eye-opening account of corporate greed, acts of neglect and abuse, an insidious industry culture of cover-up, and the actual harm that inevitably befalls vulnerable nursing home patients all across the country with shocking frequency.

Further Information:

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect in Indiana

The Dark Reality of Social Media Abuse in Nursing Homes – What You Need to Know

Recognizing Physical Signs of Neglect or Abuse in Nursing Homes



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