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.