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The Warning Signs of Chicago Nursing Home Abuse

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When our aging parents and relatives reach their Golden Years, it should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment. So long as they can remain independent, they can take the time to enjoy life without having to work. Unfortunately, as they age, they may encounter health and mobility issues interrupting their newfound freedom.

Retired adults have a variety of living situations to choose from. The more independent remain in their homes or traveling. Others seek retirement communities to gain friends from similar walks of life. Those who start to suffer from their health or lack of independence may need to hire a caretaker or move into a nursing home.

There is no shame in nursing home living. They have built-in communities, so your parents aren’t lonely. More importantly, they have in-house medical and nonmedical care to help your parents navigate daily life.

The Risks of Abuse

Nursing homes themselves supply a necessary service. Unfortunately, when you put your care in the hands of others, there is always a risk. For nursing home residents, that risk is abuse. The statistics are downright frightening. According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, 

  • “As many as 1 in 3 older adults have been the victim of nursing home abuse
  • 2 in 3 staff members surveyed by the WHO admitted to abusing or neglecting residents
  • Roughly 85% of assisted living facilities reported at least one case of abuse or neglect
  • According to National Public Radio, 97% of nursing home abuse cases across 5 states were not reported to local law enforcement
  • Elder abuse rates have increased during COVID-19
  • Abuse of elderly adults can cause severe injuries and long-term mental health issues”


Nursing home abuse comes in two forms: maliciousness and neglect. Malicious nursing home abuse can take any form: physical, financial, emotional, verbal, or sexual. Signs of neglect are more subtle, like weight loss and dehydration or bed sores forming from lack of repositioning.

Protecting Our Loved Ones from Abuse

Knowledge is half the battle. When we know abuse is a risk of nursing home life, we know that we need to keep an eye on our loved ones. Nursing home neglect is often due to overworked and burnt-out staff. A tired nurse is a nurse who can make a mistake. Other times, it’s a training problem. The nursing home may not have adequately prepared care staff for their duties. For example, someone who doesn’t know about pressure ulcers won’t think to help bed-bound clients reposition often. Malicious abuse is more nefarious; someone took a job with a vulnerable population to feel powerful. Whatever the case, it’s our loved ones who pay the price.


As long as our loved ones are somewhat independent and lucid, we can trust them to let us know if they have concerns. Check-in with them often and spend time with them to see how they are doing. Plan a game night to help them maintain mental clarity. Another thing you can do is befriend the staff. Get to know the people taking care of your loved one. Check in on their health and check in on the team themselves. Make sure they are getting meals and breaks. If you prove yourself to be a safe person to speak to, they may mention any concerns they have within the nursing home. You can be a voice for them while letting them avoid retaliation.

Despite your best efforts, you may find circumstances that make you suspicious. Some of the warning signs of abuse can be rapid weight loss, development of STDs, severe bed sores, sepsis, injuries like cuts or bruises, broken bones, and falls. While these can easily result from everyday accidents, it’s not worth the risk to your loved ones. So don’t feel guilty if you decide to investigate.

How to Report Suspicion of Elder Abuse in Chicago

If something at the nursing home has made you suspicious, speak up. If you are uncomfortable speaking to staff and management about your suspicions, alert Adult Protective Services. APS is a national service protecting vulnerable elders. They will take your report seriously and investigate while allowing you to remain anonymous. However, there is a high bar to prove criminal negligence or abuse. If they do not gather enough evidence for a criminal case, they won’t be able to take the nursing home to court.

This is where civil personal injury lawsuits come into play. The burden of proof in civil court is more relaxed. A civil lawsuit is how you receive compensation for your loved one’s medical bills. To file a lawsuit, you must find a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer to handle your case.

Why You Should Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Lawsuits are fickle. You must know federal law, state law, local statutes, deadlines, and the statute of limitations. Then you have to understand how to calculate damages, file a bunch of paperwork, and collect evidence and documentation. You have to know what to say to insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys. You must understand what is and is not safe to talk about on social media.

Or, you can hire a personal injury attorney in Chicago and let them handle everything. Your lawyer can help you gather your evidence, and they will handle all communication with opposing parties. They will help you determine who is liable for your loved one’s suffering and how to get the best results from your case. The law firm will let you know if they need anything, but they will handle the majority of the work. They will file all paperwork with the courts and track any deadlines. You will be free to see to your loved one’s care.

If you have reason to believe your loved one has been a victim of abuse, please do not hesitate. Seek help from the APS and an experienced lawyer. Get your loved one the support they need, and let your lawyer ensure you receive fair compensation to handle your loved one’s care.

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