How to Spot Nursing Home Abandonment

How to Spot Nursing Home Abandonment  is contributed by Walton Law in May, 2023, as an online article at

Elder Abuse can manifest in the form of abandonment.

What is considered abandonment in a nursing home?

In general, abandonment refers to when someone deserts another person or leaves them in a specific place. In a nursing home, abandonment occurs when the facility fails to give the resident the required care that they are obligated to provide.

Examples of nursing home abandonment

Just as “elder abuse” is a broad term, so is “abandonment.” However, there are specific examples specific to nursing homes, including the following:

  • Failing to aid patients in receiving proper medical care
  • Failing to give adequate assistance for daily activities
  • Failing to change soiled clothing or sheets promptly
  • Failing to check on a resident regularly
  • Failing to ensure that a patient receives proper nutrition
  • Failing to give medication as prescribed
  • Failing to help residents turn over in bed (this can lead to the development of bedsores)
  • Failing to use proper bedrails or otherwise secure a patient
  • Ignoring patient calls or leaving calls unattended for extended periods
  • Leaving a resident who has fallen or slipped on the floor
  • Not helping residents with necessary tasks, such as eating, moving or using the restroom

How to discover nursing home abandonment

Because our loved ones don’t have an alarm that will go off when they’ve been mistreated, we must rely on other means to detect when they have been abandoned. Sometimes the perpetrators don’t do this intentionally, but that doesn’t mean they are any less responsible. Like many other abuse victims, nursing home residents who have been abandoned may either be reluctant to disclose this (due to shame or fear of retaliation) or may not even realize it. Try to engage with your loved one to see if there are any red flags.

If you’re concerned that your loved one may have experienced nursing home abandonment, then you can ask them detailed questions, rather than general questions about their care. For instance, instead of asking “How are you being treated?” you can ask “How many times a day does someone on staff see you?” or “Does someone help you with eating?” and “How long does it take someone to help you after you ring the help bell?”

If your loved one can’t answer your questions, try talking to a roommate, other residents, or the nursing home staff. Ask for documentation that backs up the level of care that they claim to give to your relative. If you think there’s something wrong, you can’t rely on the nursing home staff’s word alone. You should also inquire about the most recent state health inspection report. You can find these on the Care Compare website from

What should you do if you suspect abandonment?

When a facility neglects or abandons residents and fails to properly provide for them, it should be held accountable.

If you’re concerned that your loved one is experiencing any form of abuse, compensation may be available. Talk to one of our skilled Walton Law attorneys who can advise you on these serious matters. Contact us today.

The Bellingham office of Walton Law, APC can be reached at (360) 543-1010 or We’ll give you a no obligation, free initial case evaluation to answer your questions, explain the lawsuit process, and show you how we can help make the best of a bad situation.

Walton Law, APC
Washington Office

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