According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, “Elder abuse is defined as negligent or intentional acts performed by a caregiver or other trusted individual that results in harm to a vulnerable elderly person.” Although it is hard to imagine anyone intentionally harming another person, especially the vulnerable elderly, it happens more often than most people realize.

It is important to be familiar with the signs of elder abuse so that you can help look out for the interests of the elderly people in your life. If you are aware of the signs, you could be the only advocate an elderly person has to identify and stand up for their well being.

Physical signs of elder abuse.

Physical signs of elder abuse are more easily noticed and identified than others. These are often the most common type of nursing home abuse. It is important to keep in mind that although an elderly individual may present signs of physical abuse, it does not mean that they are being abused. Further investigation will need to be pursued to determine if the physical signs are a result of nursing home abuse, or of some other condition such as illness.

  • Malnourishment not caused by another illness or condition
  • Untreated or severe bedsores
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained or improperly cared for injuries
  • Administration of the wrong medication or wrong dose of the correct medication
  • Poor circulation shown by sunken cheeks or eyes
  • Frequent trips to the doctor or emergency room
  • Misplacing or losing personal items frequently
  • Lack of basic necessities, such as water, food, or utilities

Behavioral signs of elder abuse.

Behavioral signs of elder abuse are harder to notice than physical signs, especially if you aren’t able to spend much time with the elderly person. Often, behavioral signs occur gradually over time, however, some can manifest quickly. Keep in mind that just because an elderly person exhibits signs of elder abuse, it does not necessarily mean that the person is being abused. Further investigation needs to occur in order to determine whether abuse has occurred.

  • Withdrawing from others or isolation
  • Experiencing signs or symptoms of depression
  • Signs or symptoms of anxiety, agitation, fear, or anger
  • Making up excuses for how injuries occurred
  • Becoming unresponsive, resigned, or complacent
  • Experiencing disorientation or confusion
  • Hesitation or unwillingness to talk freely, especially around staff

Financial signs of elder abuse.

Financial signs of elder abuse are probably the most difficult to notice unless you have access to view their finances or the abused person shares information regarding their finances. However, there are some observable signs that could indicate abuse. As always, signs of financial abuse do not necessarily mean abuse has occurred, and further investigation should be pursued.

  • Needs of the elderly person are not being met even though a caregiver is responsible for ensuring that they are
  • The elderly person has an obvious lack of amenities in their home that they should be able to afford
  • The elderly person provides excessive gifts or monetary rewards in exchange for companionship and care
  • The elderly person is no longer able to comprehend financial transactions