Elder Abuse and Neglect: Understand and Recognize the Signs
Elder abuse can happen anywhere – in someone’s own home,in the home of a relative, or in a care facility. As people grow older and moredependent on others, they become more susceptible to physical, emotional,financial, and sexual abuse as well as neglect by family or professionalcaregivers. Understanding the different types of abuse and the red flags towatch for are the first step in preventing and putting a stop to abuse.
Physical Abuse is any act causing harm. Hitting,shoving, pinching, biting, slapping or inappropriate use of restraints are allforms of physical abuse.
Possible Signs of PhysicalAbuse:
Signs of injury such as bruises, welts, burns
Fractures, dislocations or sprains
Misusing or not dispensing prescribed medications
History of similar injuries
Suspicious explanations of how injury occurred
Emotional Abuse refers to one person subjectinganother to confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation,or other acts which can harm them, elicit fear, or diminish feelings ofself-worth.
Possible Signs of EmotionalAbuse
Insulting behaviors such as name calling or mocking
Use of threats and intimidation
Noticeable decrease in participation in activities
Sexual Abuse ismanipulating or coercing an elder person to perform sexual acts of any kind.
Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse
Bruisesaround breasts or genitals
UnexplainedSTD’s or infections
Increaseddifficulty walking or sitting
Displayof anxiety or fear around caregiver
Elder Neglect is failing to fulfillresponsibilities as a caregiver. Neglect can take many forms and may includewithholding nourishment, medication, hygienic care, exercise, and socialstimulation. Whether intentional or not, the impact of these behaviors on theelder is the same.
Possible Signs of Neglect
Weightloss, malnutrition, dehydration
Untreatedmedical problems such as bedsores, rashes, cuts, infections
Absenceof needed dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other medical equipment
Unsanitaryliving conditions such as soiled bedding and clothing; poor hygiene
Inappropriateclothing for weather conditions
Desertionor leaving elder for long periods of time without care
Elderdisplaying confusion, depression
Financial Abuse refers to the misuse of orintentional stealing the assets of an elder through deception, harassment,duress and/or threats. Common examples include theft, fraud, transfer of realestate or other assets, lottery or investment scams, electronic (email bankpasswords).
Possible Signs of FinancialExploitation
Unpaidbills despite adequate income
Oversightof finances given to others or “new friends” without explanation
Checkswritten to “cash”
Significantcash withdrawals from accounts
Unexplainedchanges in wills, power of attorney and other legal documents
Additionof names to signature cards
Unexplainedcharges on credit cards
What to do if you suspect abuse of any kind? Call Adult ProtectiveServices (http://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/how-aps-helps/) and file a report.If the suspected abuse is occurring inside a care facility, contact your localOmbudsmen (https://www.state.gov/s/ombudsman). This may be done on the phone orin person and if you desire, can remain anonymous. Alerting APS or the Ombudsmen is an important step to help keep asenior safe!
Watch for our post next week “Knowing How to Get Help Whenan Elder Shows Signs of Abuse.”
If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with aSenior Care Authority Advisor in your area call (888) 854-3910 for a no-costphone consultation. We have many resources to share with you including subjectsthat are found in this article. You can also find a local advisor on our websiteat www.seniorcareauthority.com.