How to Recognize Signs of Elder Abuse

The following factors on their own may not be an indication of elder abuse or neglect; however, they can help when assessing suspected cases of abuse:

Possible indicators of physical abuse

  • Unexplained injuries such as bruises, welts, broken bones, and/or burns
  • An injury that has not been properly cared for
  • Soiled bed linen or clothing
  • Improper use of an elder’s medication

Possible indicators of financial abuse

  • Signatures on checks or other financial documents that do not match the elder’s signature
  • Unusual or inappropriate activity in bank accounts
  • Numerous unpaid bills that the caregiver is responsible for paying
  • Missing valuable belongings
  • Deliberate isolation of an elder to allow a caregiver sole responsibility
  • Recent changes to a will or power of attorney that relinquish the elder’s power
  • Lack of grooming items and sufficient clothing when the elder has sufficient funds to purchase these items

Possible indicators of psychological abuse

  • The elder shows fear in the presence of the caregiver
  • The elder is reluctant to talk to another person in the presence of the caregiver
  • The elder gives implausible stories in explanation to injuries
  • The elder shows signs of depression and withdrawal

Possible indicators of neglect

  • The elder is improperly dressed
  • The elder is undernourished or dehydrated
  • The elder shows signs of lack of hygiene such as urine smells, soiled underwear, and clothing
  • There are safety hazards in the elder’s immediate environment
  • The elder has sores, rashes, or lice
  • The elder is not receiving the required medication


Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.