What to Do if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.


In a perfect world, we would all have the means and ability to be the sole caretakers of our loved ones. All too often, that is unrealistic and impossible which leads to the decision to place them into an assisted living facility. While many nursing homes treat residents with dignity and respect, countless others fail to meet a basic standard of care. It is a tragic but all-too-common occurrence in the United States.

If you are experiencing doubt about the care and treatment of your loved one, we advise you act immediately. The risk becomes imminent as more time lapses and we recommend doing the following:

  • If they are able, talk to your loved one about the situation. Ask for their honest feedback regarding the nursing home staff and atmosphere. Here are warning signs that may indicate abuse or neglect at the nursing home:
    • They may seem more confused, disoriented, drowsy or sleeping more than they normally would.
    • They have become incontinent due to unavailable help with toileting or untimely.
    • They have become more immobile or have more difficulty getting around due to lack of assistance with mobilizing.
    • They have poor personal hygiene including smell of urine and feces, clothes that are soiled, non-bathed, overgrown nails, etc.
    • They have unexplained broken bones dislocations, bruising, scratches, etc.
    • They are dehydrated and/or malnourished with sudden weight loss, dry mouth, swollen tongue, reduced urine output and weak.
    • They have developed pressure ulcers also known as bedsores, open wounds, frequent urinary tract infections.
    • Their safety is compromised when unexplained falls or incidents occur due to poor supervision and lack of assistance.
    • They are isolated and withdrawn showing lack of interest in things that they normally would show interest in or get excited about.
    • They have become agitated, anxious, fearful, guilty, embarrassed due to emotional abuse such as ignoring yelling for help/call lights, ridiculing, bullying, humiliating or threats of punishment.
  • Speak to the nursing home staff and management regarding any issues that have come up and what your loved one has mentioned to you;
  • When having any communication with the nursing home staff be sure to take notes, especially any names that come up. Be as thorough with your questions as you want to be. Take photographs.
  • Report all suspected abuse or neglect. The MO Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline is (800) 392-0210. They are available 7AM to 12AM, seven (7) days a week. There is also an Online Reporting System for MO, the link is https://apps4.mo.gov/APS_Portal/.
  • To find out more about making a report, you can go to this website: https://health.mo.gov/seniors/abuse.php#report. You can also report the abuse and neglect to any of the following Ombudsman Programs in MO at this link: https://theconsumervoice.org/get_help/state_resources/mo
  • For KS cases you can go to this link: https://theconsumervoice.org/get_help/state_resources/ks

Consult a nursing home abuse attorney. The more individuals that whistle blow elderly abuse and neglect, the more the communities will show that lack of care for our loved ones is unacceptable. For a free consultation, please contact us.


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