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Top Signs of Elder Abuse

Last Updated: May 6, 2015

As seniors age and become more dependent on others for care, they also become more vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. Most people find the thought of harming a vulnerable elderly person abhorrent, but that doesn't mean the possibility can be ignored. Elder abuse can occur when you least suspect it. In fact, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), "most cases of elder abuse are perpetrated by known and trusted others, particularly family members." Elder abuse can also occur in institutional settings, including nursing homes and assisted living communities.

Types of Elder Abuse

Elder advocates have outlined the following types of elder abuse:

  • Abandonment
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Financial Exploitation
  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, different types of elder mistreatment often occur concurrently. For example, a senior who is being neglected may also be exploited financially.

Common Signs of Elder Abuse

Here are some of the most common signs of elder abuse. These signs don't automatically show that abuse is occurring, but are clues that you should look further into your loved one's well-being:

  • Bruises, cuts, abrasions, burns and other physical signs of trauma
  • Sudden social withdrawal, confusion or depression
  • Witnessing a family member or caregiver verbally belittling or yelling at the senior
  • Senior's finances suddenly change for the worse
  • Bedsores, poor hygiene and weight loss

There are often other explanations for these indications, but any changes in your loved one's personality, behavior, or physical condition should be investigated thoroughly.

What if You Suspect Elder Abuse?

If you believe a senior may be in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/hours a day/7 days a week: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-727-3224 (TTY)

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