What Are Some Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?
Did You Know?
Annually, June 15 has been proclaimed WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY!
Three Basic Categories of Elder Abuse
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are three broadly defined basic categories that encompass most elder abuse cases. Although definitions may vary depending on location, they generally are described as:
1. Domestic Elder Abuse
Mistreatment of an older person by a caregiver, friend or family member such as a spouse, sibling, child, or grandchild occurring in the elder’s home or in the home of the caregiver.
2. Institutional Elder Abuse
Mistreatment of an older person by paid professional staff and caregivers in a residential facility.
3. Self Neglect
Mistreatment of an older person that is self inflicted either by refusal or inability to take care of their self.
Elder Abuse and Warning Signs
Elder abuse can take many forms such as verbal, physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse and/or overall neglect. This problem continues to grow as the elderly tend to be vulnerable to mistreatment and lack of proper care.
It is important to understand that observing a warning sign does not automatically indicate abuse. Yet it may be a precursor to other less visible problems.
Here are some warning signs that should be monitored.
Possible Signs of Emotional Elder Abuse
- Unusual change in behavior
- Changes in personality
- Withdrawal from routine activities
- Unexplained anger
Possible Signs of Physical Elder Abuse
- Broken bones
- Pressure marks
- Slap marks
- Physical restraint marks
Possible Signs of Sexual Elder Abuse
- Non-consensual sexual contact
- Abnormal pain in genital area
- Bruises on the breasts
- Bruising of genital area
- Unusual bleeding
- Unusual rashes
Possible Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
- Unusual bank transactions
- Inappropriate checks written
- Forging of checks
- Altered wills
- Altered trusts
- Altered Power of Attorney
- Missing funds
- Unpaid bills
- Phone calls from bill collectors
- Sudden change in financial accounts
- Stolen property
Possible Signs of Verbal Elder Abuse
- Tense relationships
- Name calling
- Frequent arguments
- Signs of fear around a particular individual
Possible Signs of Elder Neglect ~ By Someone Who Assumed Responsibility for Providing Care
- Poor hygiene
- Overgrown nails and hair
- Body odor
- Rapid weight loss
- Bed sores
- Dirty clothes
- Medications not administered
Possible Signs of Self Neglect
While the warning signs of possible elder abuse above refer to someone else abusing an elderly person, self neglect refers to an older or disabled person who fails to or is unable to care for their own needs. This common behavior can lead to serious injury or illness. It can also put them at risk for being taken advantage of and possibly abused by others.
The majority of elder abuse cases reported to authorities are self-neglect. Possible warning signs of self neglect may include:
- Medication refusal
- Incoherent or disoriented
- Refusal to eat
- Lack of food available
- Spoiled food
- Poor hygiene
- Dirty clothes, hair, nails
- Unsafe living environment
- Unsanitary living environment
- Not paying bills
- Giving money away
- Chemical dependency
Have You Ever Witnessed Elder Abuse?
Important Resources If You Suspect Elder Abuse
Trust your gut instincts! If you believe you have witnessed possible warning signs of elder abuse including self neglect, do not be afraid to ask questions and pursue this issue further.
Keep in mind that the potential victim may be experiencing additional types of abuse that are not easily visible or you have not witnessed. In some cases, you will be able to remain anonymous if you wish.
Options and Contact Information for Reporting Elder Abuse
Local police in the U.S.
National Center on Elder Abuse
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
National Adult Protective Services Association
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Center on Caregiving
International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
How Much Do You Know About Elder Abuse? Please Take The Quiz
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Final Thoughts on Elder Abuse by Sharyn's Slant
There is absolutely no excuse for elder abuse. Any neglect, abuse or exploitation of an elderly person must not be tolerated. This is a global issue that spans all races, cultures, religions and lifestyles.
It is critical that those affected by elder abuse not suffer in silence. We must all take responsibility to bring more awareness of this problem to the forefront. By doing so, abusers can be prosecuted and the elderly will have the opportunity to live out their days in peace with pride.
If you have a few moments, I encourage you to listen to the music video below. Thank you for stopping by to learn more about the possible warning signs of elder abuse.
This is Sharyn's Slant