Spotting the Signs of Elder Abuse and Recognizing the Triggers That Cause It

Nursing Home Blog

Elder abuse in senior care facilities, healthcare settings and even residential homes is a common occurrence. Serious mistreatment of elders can range from physical abuse, such as pushing or hitting, to psychological or financial abuse. While it’s important to know what to look for in order to determine whether elder abuse is occurring, it’s also crucial to understand what triggers abusive mistreatment. Dr. Tony Rosen, an ER physician at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, worked closely with researchers to identify the factors and/or situations that trigger elder abuse.

The following are some of the most common precipitants of elder abuse found by Dr. Rosen. Keep in mind that these triggers can also serve as warning signs, indicating that abuse is occurring.

Avoidance
The victim attempts to avoid the perpetrator by stopping him or her from coming into their home or their room or by insisting that they leave.

Threats
An abusive attack might be triggered if the victim threatens to leave or escape in order to get away from their abuser and/or if the perpetrator feels threatened that the victim might get in touch with authorities.

Take note if your loved one displays signs of discomfort in the presence of a caregiver and/or tries to avoid them altogether. This behavior might be an indicator that abuse is occurring.

Confrontations Over Money
Arguments about finances can lead to abuse. The perpetrator might demand money from their elderly victims, or victims might confront abusers over the loss of money or concerns that they are being exploited or scammed. Be vigilant in watching for signs that might indicate that your loved one is or has been a victim of financial abuse.

Disputes
Another trigger is when disputes arise between elders and their abusers. The conflicts could be about a variety of issues, ranging from theft or other major problems to minor ones, such as disagreements over household affairs.

Who Is Most Likely to Abuse the Elderly?
Dr. Rosen and fellow researchers Mark Lachs, Karl Pillemer and others found that the abuser in the greatest proportion of the cases that they reviewed was a family member. They also determined that in a large percentage of the cases, the abuser was under the influence of either alcohol or illegal substances. It’s important to note that abusers can also be non-family and/or professional caregivers in homes, nursing homes or other senior care facilities. No matter where abuse is occurring, it is essential to report it promptly to the proper authorities.

If you have noticed signs of elder abuse, reporting it is a crucial part of putting a stop to it as well as helping to prevent other cases of abuse from occurring in the same facility or by the same care provider. Contact the elder abuse attorneys at Garcia, Artigliere & Medby for assistance with reporting abuse.