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.

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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.

How to Know If a Florida Nursing Home Is Neglecting Your Loved One

How to Know If a Florida Nursing Home Is Neglecting Your Loved One

How to Know If a Florida Nursing Home Is Neglecting Your Loved One


When Hurricane Irma blasted Florida, 10 elderly patients in a Hollywood nursing home died after air conditioning was unavailable for three days.


According a report by the Orlando Sentinel, a hospital is located just across the street from that nursing home – the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. The hospital was fully functioning after the hurricane passed. The nursing home said it used ice, fans, coolers, and other methods to keep residents comfortable while the air conditioning was off, but they never even attempted to ask the hospital for help.


A police investigation is now underway. However, for criminal prosecutions to occur, the nursing home staff will need to be proven negligent based on collected evidence. There’s even a possibility that no charges will be filed at all.


There is another way to hold the nursing home and its staff accountable, though. If you believe that your elderly loved one died or suffered injury due to the negligence of a nursing home or one of their staff members, you can file a personal injury claim in civil court to fight for compensation for the damages they incurred.


How do you know what constitutes negligence, though? Below we are going to detail several common example of neglect and abuse that you should watch out for.


Keep an Eye Out for These Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse


Almost two million Americans live in long-term care facilities. Too many of them fall prey to either abuse or neglect. Neglect is a failure to provide proper care, with or without intent; abuse is intentional negative treatment.


Both abuse and neglect cause serious problems among elders, whether they live in a long-term care facility or a private residence. These are the signs to watch for:


Physical signs


  • Bed sores
  • Blood on sheets or clothing
  • Bruises with no logical explanation
  • Complaints of stomachaches and headaches—may be psychosomatic symptoms of greater problems
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Falls or fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Signs of drugged sedation—hazy thoughts and slurred speech
  • Unclean appearance
  • Unreasonable restraint
  • Unreported illnesses
  • Untreated infections


What you can do:


Visit your loved one frequently and stay alert, and don’t hesitate to report abuse to authorities on the first sign of abuse or neglect.


Emotional signs


  • Anxiety and fearfulness
  • Crying for prolonged periods
  • Darkened mood
  • Increased aggressive or defensive behavior
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Statements of low self-worth


Boca Raton Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer


What you can do:


Talk with your loved one. Try to discern whether they are struggling with depression. Your loved one may feel afraid to be honest, worried that their food, medicine, or care will be withheld if they tell the truth. Look for any changes to the normal pattern, and trust what your gut is telling you.


Social signs


  • Biting
  • Lashing out
  • Resistance to being touched
  • Unusual fears around a particular individual
  • Unwillingness to communicate
  • Withdrawal


What you can do:


If your loved one refuses to talk with you about the problem, consult with a doctor or mental health professional. If you feel certain that your loved one has experienced abuse or neglect, it’s wise to seek out an experienced personal injury attorney as well.


Red flags at the facility


  • Deflected or unanswered questions
  • High staff turnover
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Lack of facility improvements
  • Phones go unanswered


What you can do:


Pay attention at each visit. Do you notice the staff being attentive, or is there a constant state of chaos? A new ruling permits you to sue nursing homes for neglect, so it’s important to report any neglectful situations.


How Can You Help Loved Ones You Suspect of Being Abused or Neglected?


Reducing the risks


Elders who have experienced stroke, injury, or dementia may have impaired mental ability. Unfortunately, these conditions may increase their chances of being targeted. Those who live in social isolation are also more frequently neglected than elders with strong social connections.


You must stay alert regarding everyone who is in contact with your loved one. Abuse and neglect may stem from the behavior of a facility employee, fellow residents, or even another family member. Trust your initial feelings if something feels off and don’t wait to file a report.


Regular visits with your loved one will help you recognize sudden changes. Take note of the long-term care facility staff and the other residents. Any unusual signs are likely red flags, and you may need to take action and move your loved one to another setting.


West Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Attorney




Each year in the United States, more than 500,000 reports of abuse against elderly Americans are made. Reporting is essential—it can literally be a life or death matter.


Call the police and your loved one’s doctor to file a report of neglect or abuse. If your loved one lives outside a facility, you can ask Adult Protective Services for help. A Long-Term Care Ombudsman is your resource for help if they live within a facility.


Don’t hesitate to reach out to a knowledgeable Florida injury lawyer who specializes in elder abuse cases. They will know how to get your loved one the help they need and whether you have a case as defined under the laws of our state based on the specific details of your situation.



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.



Nursing Home Neglect: What to Do If a Loved One Is Victimized


Making the decision to put your loved one into a nursing home can be heartbreaking. But it’s often necessary to do if you want them to continue enjoying a higher quality of life.


Adjusting while in the first few weeks of living in the nursing home is similar to adjusting to any new environment – it can be uncomfortable for them and for you. Sometimes, though, they are experiencing more than mere discomfort.


While this may not be your first thought when sending your loved one to a nursing home, it is important to realize that neglect does happen. Whether the nursing home is too crowded or the staff is not putting in the effort to provide quality care, it can cause you and your loved one to suffer.


If you believe your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect, you must first identify the injustice, and then take the proper steps to receive the compensation you both deserve and get your loved one the care they deserve.


How Does Florida Define Nursing Home Neglect?


Nursing home neglect is a broad term that centers around the needs of a resident or patient not being met by nursing home owners or staff.


We typically move our loved ones into a nursing home when they cannot properly take care of themselves and their health. When we do this, we expect the staff to take over for our loved ones and give them the care they need. This could be brushing their teeth, reminding them to take their medicine, or changing their sheets.


Neglecting to fulfill these duties could have dangerous consequences for our loved ones.


As painful as it is to think about, elderly abuse is an injustice that occurs every single day. In fact, more than 500,000 seniors (adults over the age of 60) are abused or neglected each year. Even worse, this may as well be an underestimate, because it is believed that many cases go unreported.


Examples of elderly abuse include:


  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Financial Abuse


What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect



It can sometimes be hard to catch elderly abuse or nursing home neglect as it happens. But if you suspect your loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse, we advise you to call the Florida Abuse Hotline.


This will allow you to report the incident(s) to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs so they can begin an investigation. You can also report the incident(s) online.


Continue to check in with the Department of Elder Affairs as the investigation continues. This information will be extremely useful if you are looking to file a claim against the nursing home.


We also advise you to remove your loved one from the nursing home immediately. We know that elderly care can be expensive, and the idea of removing your loved one from a nursing home or transferring them to a new one can lead to financial stress. But do not hesitate to get your loved one into safety because you’re worried about money.


First off, their safety has to be your number one priority. Worries over money may stress you out, but you’ll feel a lot worse if your loved one is seriously harmed – or worse.


Moreover, your loss of funds may only be temporary. If you file a negligence claim, you may be able to receive compensation for the losses and extra expenses of removing or transferring your loved one. In the case of financial abuse, you may also be able to get that money back.


Plus, filing a lawsuit against a staff member or the nursing home will allow you to prevent them from harming anyone else. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, stand up for the rights of your loved one – contact a Florida nursing home abuse lawyer today.