Can You Spot the Signs of Elder Abuse?

Nursing Home Blog

sad-senior-woman-hands-faceElder abuse in some form affects 5 million Americans on a yearly basis. But it’s an issue that’s tough to pin down, since the signs can mimic symptoms of dementia or even the natural deterioration caused by aging, notes PBS’ Next Avenue.

In addition, seniors often hesitate to discuss abuse, especially if a loved one is the source — and family members more frequently are responsible for elder abuse and elderly neglect than are paid caregivers. Elder abuse isn’t always physical; it also can be psychological, financial or sexual, and it can involve abandonment or elderly neglect. To prevent elder abuse, it’s important to recognize the signs.

How to Spot the Warning Signs

Typical illnesses and health conditions of aging can create frustration for caregivers — whether family members, friends or paid assistants — and cause them to react and lash out in anger. Common signs of elder abuse include:

  • Changes in an elderly individual’s behavior or personality.
  • Injuries like sprains, broken bones, bruises or cuts.
  • Failure to take medicines as prescribed.
  • Messy or disheveled appearance, including dirty clothing.
  • A caregiver who refuses to let a patient be seen alone.
  • Unexplained disappearance of money or valuables.
  • Significant weight loss or the appearance of malnourishment.
  • Disorientation or confusion.
  • Frequent quarreling between the patient and caregivers.

To serve as an advocate for elderly individuals who are close to you, know how to spot the signs of elder abuse and how to report elder abuse in your area.

The Toll of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse often begins a downward trajectory for its victims, damaging their overall well-being, financial status and health, reports the Elder Justice Roadmap, a report from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. The suffering caused by elder abuse and elderly neglect also can drain the resources of families, charities, businesses and community programs alike.

The report notes that elder abuse causes significant illness and injury, along with tripling the risk of death among seniors. In fact, victims of elder abuse are admitted to nursing homes at four times the rate of other seniors, and they’re three times more likely to have a hospital stay. Damage isn’t limited to physical abuse alone. Research has found that verbal abuse causes greater declines in mental health than physical abuse alone among elderly women. And sadly, victims of elder abuse tend to be more dependent than other elderly individuals on their caregivers.

If you or a loved one has been victimized by elder abuse or elder neglect, please contact an elder abuse attorney with the Law Offices of Garcia, Artigliere & Medby at 800-281-8515.