What are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
click for free consultation
Sunset over water

What are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?

When visiting a loved one in a nursing home, keep the following warning signs of abuse in mind. 

Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse can involve hitting, kicking, biting, punching, pinching, improperly restraining, burning, or any other kind of intentional harm. 

Warning Signs

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Open wounds
  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Welts
  • Bite marks
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Marks on wrists or other signs of restraint
  • Appearing overmedicated or undermedicated

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves any type of non-consensual sexual contact between a nursing home staff member and a resident. 

Warning Signs

  • Bruises or bleeding from the genital area 
  • Torn or bloody clothing or undergarments
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or genital infections 
  • Withdrawal, anger, depression, or other emotional changes. 

Emotional Abuse 

Emotional or psychological abuse is prevalent in nursing homes, which can be inflicted by bullying or harassing residents, teasing or humiliating, prohibiting social activities, not allowing visitors or time with family, and any use of words or actions to threaten or intimidate a resident. 

Warning Signs

  • Changes in behavior or personality
  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Frequently arguing with the staff.


Neglect can have less obvious signs and is often harder to prove. The nursing home staff may be intentionally harming the patient, or it could be unintentional if, for example, if the facility is understaffed. 

Warning Signs

  • Bedsores
  • Drastic weight loss or malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Deteriorating health
  • Poor hygiene
  • Smelling of urine and/or feces
  • Stained or bloody clothing or bedding
  • Infections
  • Prohibited from seeing visitors

Healthcare Abuse and Fraud

Common schemes include falsifying bills and medical records to misrepresent the services or extent of services provided at a nursing home. 

Warning Signs

  • Incorrect type or administration of medication
  • Duplicate bills for the same appointment, prescriptions, or procedure 
  • Inappropriate billing
  • Inaccurate information on an explanation of benefits paperwork
  • Wrong information on a bill (i.e., the provider, location, or date information)
  • Waived deductibles or copays 

Financial Abuse

Nursing home employees may manipulate residents for financial gain. 

Warning Signs

  • Sudden and significant bank withdrawals 
  • Changes in regular banking habits
  • Abrupt changes to a will or estate plan
  • Personal possessions disappearing without an explanation 

What To Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Kentucky

If you believe a nursing home resident is in imminent danger, call 911. Otherwise, document the abuse as much as possible and file a complaint with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services by: 

  • Calling their 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-597-2331, which can be made anonymously. 
  • Online through the Kentucky Child / Adult Protective Services Reporting System, which is essentially email that is only monitored on weekdays during business hours.

Additionally, contact a Kentucky Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney as soon as possible. Most offer free consultations where you can discuss your situation, legal options, and get advice on next steps. When you hire a lawyer, they can handle every aspect of the claim for you, including investigating the abuse, collecting evidence to support the claim, reporting it to the appropriate parties, following through to ensure the resident’s safety and holding the nursing home responsible for their negligence or the negligence of their employees.