For many, the idea of placing an elderly loved one in a nursing home is troublesome. Nursing home abuse and neglect are widespread, with one in six people 60 years of age or older experiencing some form of abuse in community settings. But for many seniors, assisted living is a necessity.

Whether you already have an elder in a home or are considering doing so in the future, you must recognize the warning signs of abuse or suboptimal treatment in a care facility. The safety and well-being of your vulnerable elder could very well depend on it.

1. Physical or behavioral changes in your elder

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse comes in a variety of forms. While symptoms of physical abuse are usually the easiest to spot, emotional abuse is much less noticeable.

Keep an eye out for unexplained injuries or changes to your loved one’s behavior. If they frequently have unexplained bruises or act withdrawn or agitated, there may be something more sinister taking place.

2. Unanswered questions by staff

The medical staff at the facility should never be evasive or unable to answer questions regarding your loved one’s health and care. Ideally, they should be familiar with their case and able to explain any changes to their mental or physical condition.

Care providers may not always have the answers immediately, but they should be willing to help if you or your elder have concerns. If you repeatedly struggle to get answers regarding your loved one’s care, it may be a sign that the facility is inadequate.

3. Inadequate staff or high staff turnover

It’s inevitable that a care facility may be under-staffed from time to time. However, if the providers regularly seem stretched-thin or don’t respond to your loved one’s needs promptly, it could be a sign of a poorly run facility.

Additionally, if you observe high staff turnover to the point where no one is familiar with your loved one or the care they require, it may be time to look for a new nursing home. Ongoing staffing concerns could mean your elder is frequently left unattended.

4. Malnutrition or dehydration

Unfortunately, malnutrition and dehydration are all too common forms of neglect for nursing home residents. If the facility is understaffed or inattentive, residents may not receive the nutrition or fluids they require to stay healthy. Sometimes, an elder could miss a meal entirely.

If you observe unexplained weight loss or your loved one always seems to be hungry or thirsty when you visit, it could indicate neglectful care. Try to plan unannounced visits at different times of the day if you suspect your loved one isn’t getting the sustenance they need.

5. You get a bad feeling

Ultimately, it’s okay to trust your gut if a care facility gives you a bad feeling. If you get feelings of uneasiness when you visit or something just feels off, it may be time to relocate your loved one.

Not every red flag is indicative of an abusive or neglectful situation, but it’s essential to keep your eyes open. Knowing the warning signs to look for is the best way to ensure your elder is getting the care and respect they deserve.