Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

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Elder abuse is, unfortunately, more common than many people realize, spurred on by everything from a lack of resources to an abundance of needs. 

Proper care for the elderly is often beyond the scope of many people, and abuse can run the gamut from seemingly benign neglect to outright physical violence. 

If you’re concerned for a loved one, here are the signs to look for.

1. Five Types of Elder Abuse

There are several types of abuse that can be inflicted upon the elderly:

  1. Physical: Physical abuse is anything that causes bodily harm. It can mean kicking or hitting the person, but it can also refer to locking them indoors or the improper administration of drugs.
  2. Psychological: If a caregiver yells at the elderly, ignores them, or tries to control them, this could be considered psychological abuse.
  3. Sexual: Sexual abuse can include inappropriate touching or rape, but may also include forcing the elderly to remove their clothes or making them look at sexual content.
  4. Financial: Financial abuse is most commonly seen as bank account or credit card fraud, but it may also refer to insurance or document fraud (e.g., altering a will in the caregiver’s favor).
  5. Neglect: This can occur if the caregiver simply stops performing their duties according to their original agreement. Neglect usually manifests as an unkempt appearance (e.g., dirty hair, rumpled clothing, etc.), bedsores, or broken equipment.

2. Signs of Elder Abuse

The signs of elder abuse may present in a number of different ways, and not all of them are as obvious as you might like. 

If the elderly person can’t explain burn marks or locate important documents it may not be difficult to confirm the theory. 

A caregiver who becomes angry once and snaps at an elderly person may have just lost their temper, but it could also be a sign of abuse. 

For many people, it will take a little more investigatory work to determine if elder abuse is occurring — especially if the loved one is suffering from dementia.

One of the best ways to tell if abuse is occurring is to look for unexplained mood shifts. If the person is acting paranoid, fearful, or evasive, it may be because they’re being mistreated. 

It’s absolutely critical to take action as soon as you expect something is occurring. It’s the caregiver’s job to be as proactive as they are reactive when they’re in charge. 

Even if the caretaker could argue that the person is confused as to what really happened, it’s up to them to keep the person as safe as possible.

3. Taking the Lead

Older adults aren’t always able to either fight back against abuse or even identify it. It’s up to the people who love them to look for key pieces of evidence around them. 

From broken bones to unsanitary living conditions, there are almost always ways to spot if the quality of care has somehow deteriorated. 

Whether it’s a family member, a private nurse, or an employee within a professional facility, elder abuse can occur under a variety of circumstances, so take note of any changes, speak up, and save a life.

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