To most people, abusing or neglecting an elderly person is an unthinkable act. Still, according to the Administration on Aging, hundreds of thousands of seniors are abused, neglected, and exploited every year. Elder abuse can come in many forms, from physical to emotional, and many victims are frail, vulnerable individuals who depend on others to meet their most basic needs.
Because elder abuse is often a silent problem, with victims rarely reporting their own abuse due to fear or cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia, it is very important for families and friends of seniors to be aware of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse in order to protect their elderly loved ones. Our home care experts have compiled some of the telltale signs that may indicate elder abuse.
- Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two sides of the body.
- Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations.
- Report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should).
- Broken eyeglasses or frames.
- Signs of being restrained, such as marks on the wrists.
- Family member’s refusal to allow the senior to be seen alone.
- Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that is witnessed, such as:
- Yelling at or threatening the senior.
- Humiliation or ridicule.
- Ignoring the senior.
- Isolating the senior from friends and family.
- Behavior from the elder that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself.
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration.
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores.
- Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes.
- Being left dirty or unbathed.
- Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather.
- Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards).
- Desertion of the senior at a public place.
It’s important to remember that, at first, you might not recognize the signs of elder abuse. They may appear to be symptoms of dementia or signs of the elderly person’s frailty, or a caregiver may explain them to you that way. Family members should make a point to call and visit their elderly loved ones often and be on the lookout for any changes in a senior loved one’s personality or behavior. If any signs of elder abuse are witnessed or suspected, they should be reported immediately.
Contact Home Matters today to learn more about how we can provide the best care for seniors and provide much needed respite to family caregivers to protect against abuse. Our caregivers are thoroughly screened and trained and are supervised by nurses. We also provide helpful, consistent communication to the family members of our clients through regular reporting of care goals, technology to connect you with your loved one via FaceTime or video chat, as well as 24/7 online access to care information through our Family Room portal to ensure that you always know how your loved one is doing.