Detecting Nursing Abuse and Neglect

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Most people expect that their loved ones will be well taken care of when they place them in a nursing home, or any other type of assisted living facility. There are times, however, when you might suspect that they are not getting the proper care and treatment they deserve. Unfortunately, elder abuse within nursing homes is more prevalent than most people might think. Below are some ways you can use to determine whether your relative or loved one is at risk of abuse or neglect.


While there are several different definitions of the terms “abuse” and “neglect,” the laws in South Carolina provide some insight as to how these terms should be defined when applied to elderly or vulnerable persons. Under South Carolina Code, section 43-35-10, the term “abuse” encompasses both physical and psychological abuse. Under the law, physical abuse is defined as “intentionally inflicting or allowing to be inflicted physical injury on a vulnerable adult by an act or failure to act.” This can include:

  • hitting;
  • choking;
  • burning;
  • actual or attempted sexual battery; and
  • unreasonable confinement.

Psychological abuse, on the other hand, is defined as “deliberately subjecting a vulnerable adult to threats or harassment or other forms of intimidating behavior causing fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, confusion, or other forms of serious emotional distress.”


While abuse and neglect may both result in harm for a person living in a nursing home, the law provides separate definitions for the two. Under the South Carolina Code, neglect in elder abuse cases is defined as a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide the care, goods, or services necessary to maintain the health or safety of a vulnerable adult. Examples of such goods or services include, but are not limited to:

  • food;
  • shelter;
  • medical services;
  • supervision; and
  • clothing

Interestingly enough, noncompliance with regulatory standards alone does not constitute neglect.

Signs of Abuse and Neglect

While abuse and neglect can take many forms, there are some things that you can keep an eye out for when visiting with your elderly relative or loved one. Signs of abuse or neglect can include:

  • bruises;
  • scars;
  • broken bones;
  • unusual injuries;
  • improper medicinal dosages;
  • weight loss;
  • untreated bed sores; and
  • soiled clothing.

Warning signs, however, are not just limited to the physical state of the victim, as abuse or neglect can even go so far as to affect a person’s mental state. Things to look for when talking to your loved one or relative include:

  • sudden changes in behavior;
  • unwillingness or inability to communicate;
  • fear or anxiety; and
  • disorientation

In addition, it is always important to keep an eye on the physical surroundings of your loved one or relative. Blocked fire exits or unsafe living conditions can be an indication that your loved one or relative is a victim of abuse or neglect.

Contact an Attorney

Dealing with matters involving elder abuse can be heart-wrenching and stressful. Even though you might feel like there is nothing you can do, you can get help from an experienced attorney. Contact the David Aylor Law Offices today in order to speak with a dedicated, experienced attorney.

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