How To Report A Nursing Home For Neglect And Abuse

For older people, nursing homes are a common alternative to living with other members of the family. This is because nursing homes provide 24/7 surveillance and around-the-clock care. Research states that roughly 1.4 million elderly Americans live in nursing homes, an option favored because of the perceived reliable and safe surroundings.

In a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the statistics show that 81% of elderly Americans in nursing homes have experienced or witnessed elderly abuse. The study concludes that the mistreatment of older adults in nursing homes is more extensive than initial believed2. With such figures, it is essential to know how and when to report nursing home abuse and neglect. There are several abuse and neglect signs that nursing homes have been cited for including poor sanitation and hygiene, bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, poor medical attention, inattentive staff and avoidable accidents. 

Reporting nursing home abuse can be a challenging process due to the difficulty in defining and identifying how an older adult has been abused or neglected. This is because elderly residents do not get to be with their loved ones regularly, and the visits are usually brief. This makes noticing any behavioral and appearance changes difficult. Time-sensitive physical and behavioral indicators can only be monitored by visiting an elderly loved one often. If you notice nursing home abuse, you can take several steps to report it. 

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Watch out for the following time-sensitive physical and behavioral indicators: 

  • Unexplained signs of injury, especially if symmetrical and appear on both sides of the body3
  • Loose-fitting clothes
  • Unexpected changes in behavior
  • Unexplained changes to the will
  • Unexpected diseases or illnesses 
  • Uncomfortable when engaging with you
  • Caregiver lurking around when you visit

Once suspicions of nursing home neglect and abuse are confirmed, it is your duty to report the incident to the relevant authorities. In most states, citizens, despite their vocation and status, are required to report any instances of nursing home abuse. It is critical to include detailed explanations of the signs of abuse or neglect that have been observed. The following methods can be used when reporting nursing home abuse: 

  • Speak to an informed specialist at Eldercare Locator on 1-800-677-1116, available between 9 am and 8 pm on weekdays. 
  • Look into the National Centre on Elder Abuse resources page to find out who to call in the state you reside in. 
  • Seek guidance from your loved one’s primary physician, nurse, social worker or any other relevant people concerned with the elder’s health care––as long as they are not involved in the nursing home abuse. 
  • If you suspect that the abuse and neglect is severe, call 911 immediately. 

Challenges After Reporting Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

After reporting nursing home neglect and abuse, several issues need to be looked into. After reporting to the necessary authorities, here is what should happen next:

1- Hire an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. 

Nursing home abuse attorneys are there to help during this stressful process, and ensuring that the elder gets the justice they deserve. 

2- Moving the elder to a new nursing facility. 

This is usually the most challenging as many elderly nursing home residents might be resistant to any sort of change. The resistance comes from having to leave behind their friends, and they might overlook the abuse and neglect to maintain their social circle. 

3- New nursing home. 

To ensure that nursing home abuse doesn’t occur again, the elder’s family would need to do some research on suitable nursing homes. Talking to other families can assist in understanding whether the care in that particular home is ideal and abuse-free. 

4- Finding a nursing home closer to a family member. 

It is essential that a family member visits an elder regularly; proximity will help reduce future nursing home abuse. By continually visiting an elder at a nursing home, getting to know the other residents and staff, the family member can pay close attention to changes in physical and behavior.  


1  Richard Weinmeyer. “Statutes to Combat Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes” (2014). https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/statutes-combat-elder-abuse-nursing-homes/2014-05

2  WHO. “The World Report On Violence and Health: Chapter 5: Abuse of the elderly.” (2002). https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/global_campaign/en/chap5.pdf?ua=1

3  https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/elder-abuse-and-neglect.htm  




If you or a loved one suspect physical or sexual abuse, please contact our attorneys immediately.