An elderly person with an injured left shin seated in a wheelchair at a nursing home.

Society is built on care.

Our parents and guardians care for us when we are young and help us along our journey growing up. When the time comes, we do the same for the next generation, and the cycle continues.

But there’s one more part to the cycle. Eventually, our friends and family from a generation ago will need care as well.

We, of course, want to provide care to the greatest extent we can, but we might not always be able to do so. So we turn to nursing homes: places and people we can trust so our loved ones spend their twilight years in comfort and safety.

But what happens when that trust is breached? What happens when the professionals we expect to provide for our elders fail in their duty of care and the old generation is placed in harm’s way?

What happens when these caregivers not only fail to provide care but actively choose to harm our elders? And what happens to us when we age and become vulnerable to the same abuse?

Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers stands firmly with our senior citizens and wants to help you take active steps to reduce – and hopefully eradicate – nursing home abuse. We offer our services to help you seek compensation for abuse victims and hold abusers accountable.

Call us today at 801-810-9999, or contact us by filling out our online form. We will schedule a no-obligation, zero-cost consultation with you to get you started.

Get Justice With the Help of a Salt Lake City Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

According to the CDC, there are currently more than 1.3 million nursing home residents across the country. Research shows that in a post-pandemic world, about 21.3% of these residents potentially experience elder abuse.

That is more than one in every five senior citizens. And frighteningly, given how unlikely abuse victims are to report incidents, the actual occurrence of abuse might be even higher.

Nursing home abuse attorneys aim to give the elderly a fighting chance against abusers. They represent victims and their families against the abuser and can file for damages in order to seek compensation.

Nursing home abuse lawyers can also take the case to court and seek justice there. A skilled lawyer can win victims punitive damages in addition to compensation and, by winning, potentially strengthen criminal charges against the abuser.

And if needed, then under the advice of an expert nursing home abuse lawyer, you might be able to sue the facility as a whole for allowing the abuse to go on as long as it did.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Signs that a person under a nursing home’s care is suffering abuse vary with the abuser, the victim, the act itself, and the context of the situation in which the act happens. There are, however, general markers that can hint toward a story of abuse.

Unexplained Injuries

Our bodies become more fragile as we age, so occasional injuries among nursing home residents are to be expected. But some injuries might be signs of maltreatment by staff.

When trying to differentiate normal injuries from those caused by abuse, note the following:

  • Frequency: Abuse is a patterned behavior. If an elderly person’s injuries occur regularly, for instance, on specific days of the week, that is a near guarantee that they are suffering physical abuse.
  • Location: Abusers will often try to hide the effects of their actions, especially if they leave physical marks on victims. Treat injuries as suspicious if every instance your loved one sustains is covered up or difficult to observe.
  • Severity: Following the rule that abuse is a patterned behavior, ask yourself: how consistent is the severity of a person’s injuries? Suspect abuse if each one is as bad as the last or if wounds and bruises slowly escalate over time.
  • Cause: Pay attention to what causes injuries. Some things might not make sense, such as cigarette burns (especially if the person is a non-smoker) or perhaps a sprained wrist or ankle when the person isn’t athletic for their age.

One more thing: “unexplained” doesn’t just mean an explanation isn’t provided. An injury with a flimsy or suspicious explanation should be just as big a red flag.

Neither do injuries have to be dealt by a person other than the victim. Self-harming behavior can also be the result of emotional or even sexual abuse against a nursing home tenant.


Malnutrition includes both obesity and undernutrition, though, among the elderly, it is more likely the latter.

There are at least three main reasons why a senior at a nursing home might be undernourished: they might be choosing not to eat, staff might be forgetting to feed them, or staff might intentionally be starving them.

The first reason might still indicate abuse. Low moods can lead to poor appetites, and even if that weren’t the case, rebellious victims of abuse might be willing to go on a hunger strike to protest how they are treated.

The second reason counts as abuse in the form of neglect because caregivers have, as the title implies, a duty of care to residents. By law, they have to provide adequate services for the people under their care and ensure that, to a reasonable extent, their wards avoid harm.

Finally, outright starving a patient implies an intent to harm. This automatically qualifies the abuser for at least three charges: abuse of a vulnerable adult, assault (intentionally causing harm), and reckless endangerment (risking harm to another).

Torn or Soiled Clothing

While not always a common sign, the presence of torn or soiled clothing should be taken seriously when noticed.

At the very least, unclean or damaged garments might suggest neglect, as caregivers should take charge of making sure occupants in the nursing home are clean and comfortable. At worst, they could be signs of struggle or rebellion by the victim.

There are other reasons, some malicious and some not, why an occupant would wear torn or soiled clothes. Regardless of what the reasons are, the presence of this sign almost certainly warrants investigation.

Changes in Behavior

Abuse, whether physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual, ultimately causes pain. And pain causes changes in the people who experience it.

This is why a person who is abused often becomes withdrawn or depressed. And even among individuals with an already withdrawn baseline personality, these changes can be observable.

In rare but dangerous cases, direct physical damage to the head can cause cognitive decline, which in turn leads to shifts in personality. This tends to be the case when abusers strike victims around the ear or temple in order to avoid obvious bruising.

There is a caveat to watch out for, however: behavioral changes are not always the result of abuse. Dementia and other mental disorders prevalent among the elderly can also be to blame.

That leaves it to you to identify what a shift in your loved one’s behavior or personality means. Presumably, you know them better than anyone else, but if you need help with your investigation, you may need to reach out to a lawyer to help you gather evidence.

Protecting Your Loved Ones From Abuse in a Nursing Home

The problem with fighting back against abuse is that it is often a hidden, insidious crime. Victims are often unlikely to reveal they are being abused, possibly out of shame, fear of retaliation, or any other personal reasons.

This means that if you want to protect friends or family in a nursing home from abuse, you have to take it upon yourself to watch for signs. It becomes personal responsibility to take precautions and warn you of any threats to the victim’s safety.

  • Talk to them regularly: Communication is the basis for any strong relationship, and this holds true even when that relationship is with someone in a nursing home. If your relative feels secure when they are with you, they are more likely to report any abuse they experience.
  • Watch for changes in their mood: When you know a person well enough, you can tell something is wrong just from how they project themselves. If you can tell that they seem different – more irritable or possibly forcibly smiling more – you might be able to warrant looking deeper into their situation.
  • Pay attention to their appearance: This piece of advice encompasses everything about how a person presents themselves. Missing clothing and accessories can have as deep a story to tell as longer-than-usual sleeves covering up bruises and scars.
  • Trust your instincts: Instinct is difficult to explain or quantify, but for the most part, it is a subconscious and automatic reaction to something your conscious mind might not notice. If you have a gut feeling that something bad is happening to a tenant, there probably is.

Valley Law is the Salt Lake City Nursing Home Abuse Law Firm You Can Trust

When your elder friends and family are put in harm’s way by abuse, be it in the form of wilful acts or neglect, get them to safety. And once that’s done, work to help them recover from the pain and trauma they endured.

Valley Law is ready to help you achieve that. Lead Attorney Brigham Richards brings ten years of experience in Salt Lake City personal injury law to the table, all of them dedicated to making sure your loved one sees justice served.

We do not take abuse lightly, and neither should anyone. Call Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers at 801-810-9999 or fill out our online form to get the compensation your loved one deserves today.

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