Each year in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of seniors age 60 and over are reported physically or emotionally abused, neglected, or exploited financially—both in nursing homes and while living at home. If your loved one is in a nursing home and you suspect abuse, there is important information you need to know.
Types of Elder Abuse
Nursing home abuse can happen in many ways by many people on staff or by other residents. The following are examples of senior abuse:
- Physical abuse. This type of abuse is the intentional infliction of physical injury, pain, or punishment on the resident. This can include sexual assault, physical beatings, unreasonable physical restraint, and deprivation of meals or water.
- Psychological abuse. This type of abuse is the deliberate infliction of mental anguish on the resident, including intimidation, instilling fear, threats, verbal assaults, humiliation, abandonment, and isolation.
- Financial abuse. This type of abuse is the misuse of the resident’s money or assets by a person in a position of trust with the elder.
- Neglect. This type of abuse is the failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation. This can include the failure to help with personal hygiene or with clothing an elder; failure to provide adequate healthcare and medicine needed for the physical and mental health needs of an elder; and failure to protect an elder from hazards.
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
What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
Abuse or neglect of vulnerable elders can have life-altering consequences. Victims may become disabled, develop infections, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or become depressed. If you suspect that a senior loved one is being abused, take them to a safe place immediately. Then call us toll-free at 888-591-9976 for a free consultation. You can also fill in our online form. We will give you the help you need.