Signs of elder abuse can sometimes be difficult to detect, but if you see something, it’s very important to say something. The American Psychological Association says that more than two million elderly Americans are victims of abuse every year. However, the National Center on Elder Abuse says that as little as one in six cases of abuse are actually reported.
No one deserves to be abused, let alone abused by someone who is placed in charge of taking care of your loved one. Here, you will learn about the signs of potential physical and emotional elder abuse, and what you can do if you suspect someone you love is being abused.
Physical Signs of Elder Abuse
Physical signs of elder abuse may be easy to spot, but they are very difficult to see. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, physical signs of elder abuse include:
- Broken bones
- Pressure Marks
If you discover bruises around the breasts or genital area, sexual abuse may be taking place. Bedsores, poor hygiene, malnourishment, overmedicating and unattended medical needs can all be signs of neglect.
Someone who is being physically abused may not be completely forthright about their injuries. They may create a phony explanation for their injuries out of fear of being abused again.
Emotional Signs of Elder Abuse
Emotional signs of elder abuse can be tougher to recognize, but there are a few tell-tale indicators of abuse taking place. According to the NCEA, unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, unusual depression or sudden changes in alertness are all signs of emotional abuse.
In addition, red flags should be raised if you see a caretaker belittle, threaten, name-call or attempt to use other forms of power or control over a loved one. A tense or strained relationship between a caretaker and a resident can also lead to emotional abuse.
Financial Signs of Elder Abuse
The elderly can also be exploited and taken advantage of financially. Sudden changes in a financial situation and unauthorized use of a person’s property, pension or money are all signs of elder abuse. Financial signs of elder abuse can be difficult to see right away, but if you do notice something, notify the proper authorities because a crime has been committed.
What to do About Signs of Elder Abuse
If you see any signs of elder abuse, there are a few things you can do. If you believe your loved one is in imminent, life-threatening danger, dial 9-1-1 or contact the proper local authorities immediately.
If there is no immediate threat but you suspect abuse is taking place, all states have adult protective services in place to handle these situations. Each state has a specific contact number that can easily be found online. Laws are in place in all states to protect the elderly from abuse.
Studies say that many who are the victims of abuse are reluctant to report what it going on. If you yourself are being abused, it’s important to speak up and remember that you are not alone. Get in touch with a friend, family member, doctor or government agency so the cycle of abuse can come to an end.