Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Possible Signs of Abuse and Neglect

Possible signs of abuse:



  • injuries to the upper extremity, trunk, head, neck and/or anogenital regions
  • depression, anxiety
  • change of behavior/mood in presence of the person abusing or neglecting
  • unexplained burns and bruises (may be in different stages of healing)
  • fractures (may be in different stages of healing) evidence of sexual abuse (e.g., genital
  • infections, trauma, bruising on inner thigh) signs of hair being pulled
  • inadequate explanation or documentation of any injury (from employees)
  • evasive or defensive responses (from employees)



  • irregularities in bank accounts and bills
  • living conditions that do not match income
  • missing money and personal belongings
  • payments to strangers or new “best friends”
  • inappropriate use of power of attorney authority
  • deception or coercion with regard to payments, gifts or change in wills


Possible signs of neglect:

  • dehydration
  • malnutrition
  • low blood albumin level
  • pressure ulcers/sores
  • poor body and oral hygiene/grooming
  • depression
  • despair
  • unclean living conditions


Caution: The presence of risk factors or signs of abuse and neglect does not mean that a person is experiencing abuse or neglect.

Older Adults
Preventing and Addressing Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults: Person-Centred, Collaborative, System-Wide Approaches
Point of Care Resources