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The Signs of Elder Abuse

Any older person can unfortunately be the target of elder abuse. It can happen at the hands of a loved one, a caregiver, or a stranger, in their own home or in a care facility. Recognizing the signs is important, as frequently the victims of elder abuse are unable to advocate for themselves, whether due to a diminished capacity or social isolation.

There are many different types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse: Violence performed against the victim
  • Emotional abuse: Creating emotional pain through threats, intimidation, or humiliation
  • Neglect: Failures to support the individual’s physical, social, or emotional needs by those responsible
  • Isolation: Restricting visits and interaction
  • Financial: Misuse of the victim’s assets or property
  • Abandonment: Desertion by a caregiver
  • Sexual abuse: Forcel, threats, or coercion to facilitate non-consenual touching or sexual activity

While abuse often happens away from the eyes of others, there are signs and symptoms to be aware of that could be indicators of elder abuse, necessitating a call to Adult Protective Services.

  • Sudden inability to meet basic physical and emotional needs, endangering or threatening health
  • Disappearing from contact with friends, neighbors, family, or becoming withdrawn and isolated
  • Unexplained bruising or welts on the skin, especially on the face or the upper arms. Seniors are more likely to bruise from abuse than from accidents.
  • Appearing dirty, underfed, dehydrated, over or under-medicated, not receiving necessary medical care, or wearing dirty, torn, stained or bloody clothing
  • Bed sores or other preventable conditions
  • Recent changes in banking or spending habits, suddenly buying lavish or inappropriate gifts for others.