Read Time: 3 Min

The Elder Abuse Epidemic: What you can do to stop nursing home neglect

November 7, 2018

According to the New York State Coalition on Elder Abuse, America’s elder population is growing exponentially.  In fact, adults who are 85 years and older are the fastest-growing population segment in the United States.  As these numbers grow, more adults are placed in nursing care facilities.  The data show that as people live longer, vulnerability is amplified, creating a greater potential for mistreatment of our country’s oldest demographic.

The most common type of elder abuse is neglect. Nursing home abuse implies that the caregiver intends to harm the elderly person, while nursing home neglect is a form of poor quality care, or a breach of the duty of care, which causes harm to the elderly resident. Nursing home neglect is wide-ranging and encompasses several categories including social, emotional, hygiene, medical, and the neglect of basic human needs. Common cases of mistreatment concern the denial of clean living environments, social isolation, and an intentional disregard for a resident’s medical condition.

There are a number of red flags that suggest the presence of elder abuse and neglect. If identified, the following may indicate that an elderly person is a victim of mistreatment:

  • Weight Loss (particularly in situations where the elderly resident cannot feed themselves);
  • Malnutrition (evidenced by sickness and infection);
  • Bedsores;
  • Withdrawn behavior (evidence of psychological abuse and social and emotional isolation);
  • Changes in personal hygiene and physical appearance;
  • Presence of unsafe living conditions (dim lighting, unclean living areas, hazardous furniture, etc.);
  • Unusual change in wills and other legal or financial documents; and
  • Bruises, bleeding, and other physical signs of injury.

If you have reason to suspect nursing home mistreatment, you can take action in the following ways:

  • Speak with your loved one about the situation.
  • Question the nursing facility’s staff and management regarding signs of suspected abuse.
  • Adequately document the situation (take notes and ask questions).
  • File a complaint.
  • Contact a local agency.
  • If there is an imminent threat of harm, please call the local police.
  • Speak with a skilled and qualified law firm.

To ensure the protection of a nursing home resident, seek the advice of an attorney who is familiar with the regulatory laws governing nursing home facilities. In order to be held legally responsible for a victim’s injuries, the nursing facility must have violated its responsibility to provide the victim with a reasonable level of care. HoganWillig’s skilled legal team is dedicated to fighting nursing home negligence. If you or a loved one is a nursing neglect victim, please contact HoganWillig for immediate assistance: call 716- 636-7600.


Please report all suspected instances of elder neglect or abuse.

New York State’s National Center on Elder Abuse provides state reporting resources:

  • 888-201-4563 (Suspected elder mistreatment in nursing home facilities)
  • 866-893-6772 (Complaints concerning assisted living facilities)

Individuals may also contact their local Department of Social Services:

Niagara County Department of Social Services
20 East Avenue
P.O. Box 506
Lockport, New York 14095
Phone:  716-439-7600  
Erie County Department of Social Services
Rath County Office Building
95 Franklin Street,8th Floor
Buffalo, New York 14202
Phone: 716-858-8000