Many elderly adults are subject to abuse in their own homes, the home of relatives, and even the facilities that are responsible for their care such as nursing homes and day centers. If you suspect that an elderly relative, friend or neighbor is being physically or psychologically abused or is being financially preyed upon, it’s important that you speak up as soon as possible. This article will explain more about the signs of elder abuse and how to best prevent and report the issue.
What is Elder Abuse?
As older people become physically weaker and more frail, they are less able to stand up to being bullied or fight back and defend themselves if they are attacked. Because older people may be unable to see or hear as well as they once could, they leave openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them and their situation. Many seniors worldwide are subject to some kind of abuse, often by the people who are directly responsible for their care. In the U.S. alone there are half a million reports of elder abuse each year, with millions of further cases going unreported.
Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For
In many cases of elder abuse, the signs and symptoms are unrecognized or not taken seriously at first. Many signs of abuse can appear as general signs of poor health, metal deterioration or dementia and signs of the elderly person’s frailty – and are often explained away by caregivers as such. In general, seniors who are being abused will tend to have frequent arguments or tension between them and their caregiver, and you may notice some personality or behavioral changes.
If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused physically, you may notice one or more of the following signs. Look out for unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, cuts, and scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on each side of the body. Broken bones, dislocations and sprains could also signify abuse, as could any reports of a drug overdose on prescription medication. You should also look out for any signs of restraint, and be wary if the caregiver is reluctant to allow you to see the elder alone.
Emotional abuse often goes hand in hand with other types of abuse, and if you witness a caregiver being threatening, belittling, or controlling towards an elder, this could indicate emotional abuse. The elder may also show behavior that mimics dementia such as rocking, mumbling, or sucking their thumb.
Financial exploitation involves the theft and use of an elderly person’s money, and your elderly friend or relative may be being financially exploited if you notice any of the following. You should look out for significant withdrawals from their accounts, suspicious changes in wills, sudden changes in their financial condition and financial activity they could not have done, for example ATM withdrawals when they are bedridden.
If you suspect that your elderly friend or relative is going through any of the above, contact elder abuse attorneys at Garcia Law today.