How To File A Report For Neglect In Nursing Homes?

Nursing homes require a lot of care and decision-making for family caregivers. Neglect and abuse in nursing homes can quickly escalate and even turn fatal if not addressed. It is estimated that 1 in 3 older adults are victims of nursing home abuse. According to one study, only one in 24 instances of nursing home abuse was reported to local law enforcement. 

Reporting neglect in nursing homes is possible through various channels, including local and national organizations.

Types Of Neglect In Nursing Homes

Types Of Neglect In Nursing Homes

Although many believe nursing home abuse only involves physical abuse, older adults may be subject to many other forms of neglect and abuse. There is also the possibility of residents suffering from emotional mistreatment, neglect, or sexual abuse.

Below are the many forms of elderly neglect:

  • Medical Neglect occurs when nursing home residents are not properly treated for health problems, and preventive measures are not taken. The result is poorly managed diabetes, infections, mobility problems, bedsores, and other health complications.
  • Basic Needs Neglect happens when nursing homes don’t provide sufficient food or water or clean and safe surroundings for residents. Consequently, people may suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. An unsafe environment also puts residents at greater risk of other issues, like falling and theft.
  • Social/Emotional Neglect is when residents are ignored, left alone, or prevented from interacting with their friends, families, or fellow residents. Physical or mental disabilities can increase the risk of social neglect since caregivers may be responsible for moving and interacting with residents.
  • Personal Hygiene Neglect occurs when nursing facilities do not properly provide residents with dental care, laundry, or bathing. When personal hygiene is neglected, residents may wear dirty clothes and appear dirty.

Reporting Neglect In Nursing Homes

Knowing what you can do to report abuse in nursing homes is important to help your senior loved ones. The following are the most important groups and authorities to notify if you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse:

Eldercare Locator

The Department of Health and Human Services sponsors the Eldercare Locator service. This program connects seniors with housing, healthcare, and other government services.

To report senior neglect in nursing homes, call their complaint hotline at 1-800-677-1116. 

National Center on Elder Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse was founded in 1988 to provide information and resources to those affected by elder abuse. By providing training and education, this advocacy group helps make spotting nursing home abuse easier. Additionally, the organization advocates for policy changes to improve the elderly quality of life.

The NCEA teaches you how to:

  • Find elder support resources in your area
  • Be aware of nursing home abuse and report it
  • Raise awareness on elder abuse


In nursing homes, ombudsmen protect patients' rights and resolve issues related to their health and safety. A long-term care ombudsman is a middleman between the facility and the resident.

Under the Older Americans Act, every state and several U.S. territories established long-term care ombudsman programs.
The ombudsman's responsibilities include:

  • Responding to complaints of neglect, abuse, or poor treatment of residents
  • Making older people aware of their rights and the resources available to them
  • Providing recommendations on how to improve old-age care based on their experiences

Using the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, you can locate your state's ombudsman. An investigation can then be conducted to address your concerns and complaints about nursing homes.

Doctors and Medical Experts

In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of normal aging and those caused by mistreatment. Bruised skin, frequent falls, bedsore, or dehydration is not always an indication that a person is neglected or abused. A medical expert or doctor's opinion can be helpful here.

Doctors are in a unique position to examine a patient comprehensively. They can determine if nursing home residents are abused or neglected by looking at their physical and emotional conditions. By identifying elder abuse and making appropriate referrals to community agencies, the cycle of violence and neglect can be broken.

Local Authorities

Nursing home abuse can be reported to local authorities like the police or APS. If an elder has been abused or suffers serious harm, the police can help.

Criminal charges are filed for:

  • Harassment or emotional abuse
  • Coercion, whether sexual or financial
  • Assault or murder

When you suspect an elderly relative is being abused or neglected, contact your local APS branch. After you raise concerns, the social workers can investigate your elder's well-being. Visit the National Adult Protective Services Association website for phone numbers for local APS branches.

Confidential Reporting

The National Adult Protective Services Association has regulations regarding reporting confidential elder abuse in every state. NAPSA ensures the confidentiality of all calls. If you report nursing home abuse, your identity will be kept secret unless you consent to disclose it or a court orders you to. In addition, they are protected from legal action or retaliation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions you may have about reporting abuse in nursing homes:

What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse?

Do not ignore suspected abuse — staff and management should be questioned. Discuss the situation privately with your loved one. If you notice anything amiss, write it down. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, report it and seek legal counsel.

Are there any reporting requirements for nursing home abuse?

The more details you can provide, the more likely investigators will be able to understand what happened. Speak with a nursing home abuse attorney, police officer, or ombudsman to find out what you need to file a report.

What is the most common abuse in nursing homes?

The most common form of nursing home abuse is emotional abuse. One-third of nursing home workers admitted to abusing residents emotionally, according to a 2020 WHO study. The rate of emotional abuse in nursing homes was higher than any other type.

Save Seniors From Neglect

Don't wait until it's too late to report nursing home abuse. By reporting neglect in nursing homes, an investigation can be opened into their overall well-being. If you suspect your loved one is facing immediate danger or a medical emergency, dial 911. 

If you or your elderly loved one prefer more independence, an assisted living community could be a great place to retire. You can learn more about affordable assisted living facilities in this Senior Strong guide.

Was this article helpful?
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
After years of living under the care of your parents and other family members, the time will arrive for you to reciprocate. At Senior Strong, you can show your loved ones just how much you value them.
642 W 28th St, Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 877-8342
Senior Strong © Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved