Elder abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, financial, and sexual or neglect. With over 500,000 reports of elder abuse to authorities every year, and even more unreported, it is a serious and common issue. Often occurring at the hands of people in positions of trust, and most frequently where the senior lives, abuse victims are often dependent on their abuser for care.
As with any abuse victim, there will be warning signs that you can be aware of, both for yourself and for your loved ones. Abuse can be subtle and hard to detect but the ramifications are severe. If you notice any of these signs, take steps to protect your loved one right away.
The number one sign of abuse is changes in personality or behavior. When a person you know alters their behavior for no discernable reason, this is a red flag. Here are some other signs to look out for:
- Behavior mimicking dementia, like rocking or mumbling
- Indicators of physical abuse including bruises, cuts, sprains, welts or even signs of restraint like rope marks on the wrist. This includes around the breasts or genitals if it is sexual abuse.
- Noteworthy withdrawals from bank accounts, missing money, unpaid bills or unusual purchases
- Malnutrition, poor hygiene, incorrect medication, weight loss, untreated physical problems, unsanitary living conditions or inappropriate clothing
There are also signs and symptoms of abuse with the abuser, who is most frequently the caregiver. This is because the caregiver is often overwhelmed, underprepared and stressed. The demands of caregiving are hard and caregivers can often feel unappreciated, especially if the elder also has memory issues. Frequent signs include:
- Frequent arguments or tension between caregiver and elder
- Controlling or limiting visitors
- A lack of interest or affection towards the elder, whom they see as a burden
- Mutual isolation that places both the elder and caregiver alone together for much of the time
To prevent elder abuse, pay close attention to the senior, the caregiver and the people closest to the senior, including family members. That way, you can look out for signs of burnout or aggression before it turns to abuse. If you suspect abuse, intervene immediately. Call the Department of Health and Human Services eldercare hotline at 1-800-677-1116.
If abuse or negligence has occurred at a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult home or other long term care residence, your family may be able to obtain fair compensation for inappropriate care and treatment.
Speak to an attorney who specializes in personal injury and elder abuse cases, such as those with Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. For more information about Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, visit AllenandAllen.com or call 1-866-388-1307.