Florida Nursing Home Abuse: What Exactly Is It?

Florida Nursing Home Abuse: What Exactly Is It?

Florida Nursing Home Abuse: What Exactly Is It?
When you put your loved ones in a nursing home, you leave them in the trust of staff members who are supposed to be trained in caring for older adults. Who have a duty to make sure that the patients living in their facility get the help and attention they need. This is especially important for those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other serious conditions and are especially vulnerable.

Unfortunately, sometimes staff members or management actually take advantage of this vulnerability and use your loved one’s confusion to their advantage. This may result in nursing home abuse, an offense which brings thousands of Floridians to court each year.

Understanding what nursing home abuse is and the different ways an elderly loved one can be victimized while in long term care in Florida can help you to spot the signs and prevent bad situations from escalating.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse in Florida?

“Nursing home abuse” is an overarching term that defines an action (or lack of action) that knowingly and intentionally causes harm or the risk of harm to an older, vulnerable adult. Any type of caregiver within a nursing home or other long term care facility can be charged with nursing home abuse, so long as they have a duty of care to the alleged victim.

How common is nursing home abuse? The exact numbers are not known, but research from the Administration for Community Living suggests that “at least 10% of older Americans – approximately 5 million persons – experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, financial exploitation and neglect each year.”

Let’s look at these five different types of nursing home abuse. If you suspect that your loved one may be a victim, reach out to a skilled Florida personal injury lawyer immediately.

Physical Abuse

One of the most obvious types of nursing home abuse is physical abuse. Examples of physical abuse in a nursing home could include:

  • Hitting, slapping, punching
  • Unnecessary rough handling or aggressiveness
  • Threats of physical danger

If you notice signs of physical abuse (bruises, scars, etc.) do not hesitate to report them. Keep a close eye on your loved ones and do not be afraid to ask them if they have experienced any abuse. You can also use resources from the National Center of Elder Abuse to find numbers that you can call after suspected abuse has occurred.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse in Florida?

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse that involves sexual contact with a senior without their consent or when they are unable to give their consent.

Not only is this something that happens throughout nursing homes, often reporting the abuse to the nursing home itself isn’t enough. CNN looked at data from 2013 to 2016 and found over 1,000 cases in which nursing homes mishandled or failed to prevent alleged sexual abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse does not involve physical harm, but can still be just as dangerous to vulnerable adults. Nursing home staff can emotionally abuse a resident through:

  • Intimidation
  • Repeatedly blaming the victim for wrongdoing that was not their fault
  • Humiliation or ridicule
  • Menacing or threatening the victim

These acts can lead the victim to feel depressed, intimidated, or severely fearful. Stress and fear can greatly impact a person’s physical well-being. If you see unusual fearful or timid behavior from your loved one, you might want to investigate further.

Financial Exploitation

Older people who are confused may not always know where they are, who they are talking to, or what documents they are signing. If a nursing home staff member hands them a document and tells them to sign, the victim may feel pressured – or just blindly trust the person with authority. Unfortunately, these documents may hand over money to the nursing home or even the employee themselves.


Not all types of elder abuse comes from an employee’s actions. Their inaction can be just as dangerous to your loved one. Neglect is a serious form of nursing home abuse.

Nursing home staff have a specific duty of care to your loved ones. If they need help with transportation or walking, staff should be ready to help them. If your loved one needs help with feeding or going to the bathroom, staff should have someone available for those services as well.

When you put your loved one in a nursing home, you expect a certain standard of living them. When nursing home staff neglect to attend to these duties, your loved ones could suffer – especially if they need help with basic activities like eating or going to the bathroom.

Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Signs of neglect include:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain, signs of malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Withdrawal from family and friends, sudden changes in behavior
  • Hazards present throughout the room or facility

All of these signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse should be addressed immediately. Once you can prove that the nursing home was abusing your loved one, it may be time to take them to court.



About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

What to Do If You See Signs of Abuse Visiting a Florida Nursing Home

What to Do If You See Signs of Abuse Visiting a Florida Nursing Home

What to Do If You See Signs of Abuse Visiting a Florida Nursing Home


If you’re like a lot of Floridians who have an elderly loved one living in a long-term care facility, chances are good that you paid them a visit over the holidays. Hopefully your experience there was happy and positive, and you were able to spend some valuable quality time with your loved one.


Some of you, however, may have had a different experience. Maybe your relative seemed quiet and withdrawn. Or excessively jumpy. Perhaps you noticed bruises or some other kind of physical harm. Or they were left alone for a surprisingly long period of time.


If you noticed something that seemed wrong, how can you tell if your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse or neglect?


Nursing homes are where nearly two million Americans live. Unfortunately, reports of abuse and neglect are all too common. Nearly 500,000 cases are reported annually, and many more cases go unreported. If your loved one is being abused or neglected while living in a nursing home, you may notice the following signs, which need to be reported to The Florida Department of Elder Affairs.


The Physical Symptoms of Abuse and Neglect


What you want to look for is changes in your loved one’s appearance and behavior. The best way to keep track of these things is to visit your loved one as often as possible and watch for them.

Physical signs are often the easiest way to know your loved one isn’t receiving proper care, and may indicate sexual abuse.


Watch for:


  • Bed sores
  • Infections that have not been treated
  • Illnesses that have not been reported
  • Bruises
  • Blood on clothing or sheets
  • Falls or fractures
  • Signs of a head injury: headaches, confusion, dizziness
  • Stomachaches
  • Lack of adequate nutrition or hydration
  • Unkempt or dirty appearance
  • Restraints that don’t match the situation, or signs of unnecessary restraint
  • Hazy, unfocused thoughts that may indicate sedation
  • Medication amounts don’t match with prescription dates

The Emotional Symptoms of Abuse and Neglect


Your loved one may show emotional signs from being hurt or neglected as well. Because of this, it’s important to develop good communication skills. Listen carefully to what your loved one says. If your loved one is avoidant, they may fear retaliation for speaking up.


If you have a sense of wrongdoing, trust your instincts and look for the following signs:


  • Prolonged crying spells
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Attitude that indicates low self-esteem
  • Pronounced anxiety
  • Increase in aggressive behavior
  • Loss of interest in former favorite activities

The Social Symptoms of Abuse and Neglect


Your loved one may act differently around you, caretakers, or nursing home peers. Watch for these signs, and talk with a doctor or counselor if you notice any of them:


  • Angry outbursts
  • Biting other people
  • Marked criticism of others
  • Drawing away from touch
  • Signs of fear around a specific person
  • Withdrawal or refusal to cooperate

The Signs of Financial Exploitation


If someone is financially exploiting your loved one, these are the signs to watch for:


  • Missing cash
  • Large account withdrawals
  • ATM withdrawals when your loved one is bedridden
  • Unexplained charges
  • Sudden financial situation changes
  • Changes in power of attorney or wills

Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Related to financial exploitation, sometimes individuals or entities commit fraud using your loved one’s healthcare information. This is what you should watch for to know if fraud has occurred.


  • Double billing
  • Too much or not enough medication
  • Facility problems (see below)
  • Inadequate care though all bills are paid


The Signs of an Inadequate Facility


At every visit, ask yourself the following questions. Is the staff attentive to resident needs? Is the staff constantly stressed or chaotic, or is no one around? You can prosecute a nursing home for neglect, and the signs make look like this:


  • Phone ringing with no answer
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • High turnover rate of staff
  • Not enough workers on duty
  • Questions go unanswered


How You Can Reduce Your Loved One’s Risk


If your loved one has experienced a head injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia, it may be more difficult to tell if they are being abused or neglected. Also, these conditions predispose them to being targeted for abuse. It’s important to reduce the risks by helping your loved one maintain vibrant social contacts.


You also must be on alert about anyone who offers care, assistance, or friendship to your loved one. Watch nursing home staff members, residents, and other family members. It’s crucial to file a report if you sense something is wrong.


If you can’t regularly visit your loved one, find someone in the area you trust who can. Attentive care is the best way to reduce the risks of abuse or neglect. You may need to relocate your loved one to a new care facility that is more suited to his or her needs.


Reporting Abuse or Neglect


Boca Raton Nursing Home Negligence Attorney


Depending on the situation, you may need to call a long-term care ombudsman, your loved one’s doctor, the police, and possibly a skilled Florida personal injury attorney to stop the abuse or neglect and get your loved one the help they need.


A lawyer with experience in elder abuse cases will be your best advocate and understand how to help you fight to improve your loved one’s situation and hold responsible parties liable for any harm they caused. Learn more by reaching out today for a free, confidential case review.



About the Author: 

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.

Boca Raton Elder Abuse Lawyer

Nursing Homes Need to Take Psychological Abuse Seriously

Boca Raton Elder Abuse Lawyer
There have been a lot of stories over the past several years about how much abuse goes on in nursing homes around the country, and most people are well aware of the fact that many of our seniors are getting mistreated.


But that doesn’t mean you really understand how bad things are. The National Center for Elder Abuse has compiled studies showing that anywhere from 7.6 to 10 percent of all seniors have suffered from abuse. Worse, various studies estimate that only one incident of abuse is reported for every 14 to 24 that occur. And in a study conducted from 1999 to 2001, but only recently reported to the public, researchers found that instances of abuse occur at nearly one-third of all nursing homes in the United States.


If you have an older relative in an assisted living facility or nursing home, this report was probably particularly disturbing, and you may be watching out for signs of physical abuse when you visit. Some of the most common things to look for are bruises, broken bones, clothes that are torn or bloody, marks that seem to be from restraints, and signs of neglect, such as malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, and a sudden loss of weight. Even excessive injuries from falls, which can be serious or very minor, can be a sign that someone is abusing your loved one.


But while it’s vital that you pay attention to these signs of physical abuse and neglect and report them as soon as you notice them, don’t forget it’s just as important to watch out for signs that your loved one is being psychologically abused.


How Are Seniors Psychologically Abused in Nursing Homes?


There are a number of different ways that seniors can suffer psychological abuse in senior living facilities. Some of them may not even be intentional by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them, but they can still cause lasting harm to your loved one, and caregivers who engage in this kind of behavior – regardless of whether they intended to harm their residents or not – are not living up to the legal obligations of their station.


How Are Seniors Psychologically Abused in Nursing Homes?

Verbal abuse. Some caregivers have been known to speak to the elderly people in their care in a manner that is violent, intimidating, threatening, humiliating, dismissive, offensive, or simply hurtful and can leave the resident anxious or scared. Over time, these psychological symptoms can even cause physical problems to manifest when the abuse is serious enough.


Isolation and neglect. While there can be physical signs of neglect for seniors, emotional neglect can cause big problems, too. This happens when caregivers intentionally or unintentionally leave specific residents out and provide them with a lower level of care than other residents. Even if their physical needs are technically being met, this kind of behavior can leave a senior feeling like they don’t matter and cause them to stop taking care of themselves and sink into a depressive state. This form of psychological abuse is difficult to identify and prove unless there are accompanying physical problems, but it does exist.


Signs of Emotional Abuse in Seniors


If you want to know if your loved one is being psychologically abused, the best thing to do is check in on them more frequently so you can see how they are treated and how they interact with everyone around them at the facility. Often, abused seniors don’t report abuse because they are afraid of retaliation or – worse – that they won’t be believed. Some may even feel the treatment is “deserved” or somehow their fault.


Some common signs of psychological abuse in elderly nursing home residents include:


  • Visible depression that coincides with their time at the nursing home
  • Visible anger that coincides with their time at the nursing home
  • Frequently blaming themselves for problems that are insignificant and/or for which they bear no responsibility
  • Displaying a high level of anxiety or fear whenever they are around certain people
  • “False dementia” – rocking, sucking, and mumbling


Unfortunately, none of these signs are actual proof that any abuse is going on, and can easily be signs of something else entirely. If you notice any of these signs, the first thing you should do is to ask your loved one if anyone is bothering or hurting them. You can also try to talk to other residents who are coherent and staff members that you like and trust.


If it seems like abuse truly is occurring, the first thing you should try to do is move them out of that facility as soon as possible, then talk to the authorities and file a complaint with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. After you’ve removed your relative from the negative situation and brought the problem to the attention of the appropriate people, contact an experienced elder abuse attorney immediately.


Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

There are a wide variety of claims that you can bring against abusive caregivers and nursing homes, including allegations of physical, verbal, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect. There are different things that need to be proven in each type of case, so it’s in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you through the legal process and make sure that you and your loved one are compensated for what you had to endure, and that the heinous acts that occurred won’t happen to someone else.


Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse in West Palm Beach

Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse


Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse in West Palm Beach

As America’s population ages, more and more elderly people are moving into these nursing homes. These facilities are supposed to provide residents with the medical care, daily assistance, and social environment that they need to live comfortably, but unfortunately, far too many residents experience neglect and abuse in these settings.


Research conducted in 2000 by the National Center on Elder Abuse revealed that almost half (44%) of more than 2,000 nursing home residents had suffered some form of abuse, and an astounding 95% had either been neglected or seen someone being neglected in their nursing home. Fourteen years later, frequent news stories about elder abuse reveal that this issue has not been resolved.


If you live in a nursing home or have a loved one who lives in one of these facilities and you have experienced or witnessed any kind of abuse, the best way to put a stop to it is to come forward and hold the caregiver who is engaging in this kind of inappropriate behavior accountable. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you take legal action against an abusive party and even recover compensation for any injuries or financial harm. If you are unsure whether you should come forward because you don’t know whether a caregiver’s behavior constitutes abuse, review the most common types of nursing home abuse below.




Neglect is the most common form of nursing home abuse and is present in more than half of all reported cases. Neglect can be either intentional or unintentional on the part of the caregiver and may involve things like failing to provide basic life necessities (food, water, medicine, etc.), failing to keep a resident’s living space clean and safe, or failure to address and treat health problems.


Physical or Sexual Abuse


Physical abuse involves non-accidental, physical force used against a resident, including hitting, kicking, pushing, shaking, slapping, pinching, and burning. Force-feeding, inappropriately using physical restraints, or using any kind of physical punishment also fall into the category of physical nursing home abuse.


Sexual abuse involves any kind of non-consensual sexual act with a nursing home resident. This could involve rape, but non-physical sexual acts can also be a form of sexual abuse. These include forcing a nursing home resident to look at pornography, watch sex acts, or undress while others watch.


Psychological Abuse


Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Psychological abuse is not always as visible as physical abuse and neglect, but it can still be incredibly harmful to a resident’s health and mental wellbeing. Psychological abuse and manipulation may include humiliating a resident in front of other residents or caretakers, engaging in verbal insults or threats, verbal harassment, or forcing a resident into social isolation.


Financial Exploitation


Sadly, unscrupulous caregivers may take advantage of a resident’s perceived vulnerability in order to misuse their money. Acts of financial exploitation in a nursing home might include identity theft, forging a resident’s signature, stealing a resident’s income checks or other sources of money, or misusing a resident’s checks or banking accounts.


All these examples of abuse aren’t just immoral, they are illegal. If a caretaker is found to be engaging in this behavior, they may face criminal charges. However, residents and their families can also file a civil lawsuit against neglectful or abusive caretakers in order to recover money for medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or misused finances. Working with a personal injury attorney who has handled nursing home abuse cases before will give you your best chance of recovering compensation.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars..