Elder abuse is one of those vices that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Whether it’s physical assault or emotional torment, elder abuse can take many forms. Sometimes, such elders are abused by family or friends. Usually, such abuse occurs at the hands of a caregiver, whether at home or in a nursing facility. Recognizing the signs of elder abuse is crucial to intervention. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused, calling the authorities may be necessary. Or you can contact an elder law attorney from Burzynski Elder Law to look into the matter and attempt to get justice for your loved one.
Identifying Signs of Elder Abuse
While people may react to abuse differently, there are some common signs, those exhibited by most elderly people undergoing abuse. These include:
1) Physical Injuries
Injuries are the most obvious signs of elder abuse. Such injuries could include:
iii) Bruises and welts
iv) Cuts and scrapes
v) Pressure marks or unexplained soreness
Physical injuries due to abuse tend to occur when non-relatives are the ones caring for an elderly person. This could be in a nursing home or at an elderly person’s residence. When an elderly loved one exhibits any signs of physical abuse, it is best to confront the caregiver or the nursing home’s administration immediately. This is because there is a tendency to cover up abuse to protect the reputation of such establishments.
2) Weight Loss
Weight loss could be the result of a chronic medical condition. Or it could be the result of prolonged poor feeding or outright starvation. This is also common in elderly nursing homes where the elderly person’s loved ones may not come to visit often.
3) Poor Hygiene or Tardiness
This is obvious to recognize. Unpleasant body odor due to lack of bathing or proper toileting could indicate neglect by a caregiver. Sometimes, the room where the elderly person lives is cluttered, tardy, or full of dust and trash because of poor housekeeping by the caregiver.
4) Unexplained Financial Transactions
Sometimes, the elderly person is being blackmailed or coerced into giving money to third parties. For instance, if there are unexplained money transfers to unknown individuals, this could indicate extortion. Other signs to indicate an elderly person is being taken advantage of include:
i)Gifts and money by the elderly person in exchange for companionship or other favors
ii) An elderly person being unable to access their bank account
iii) Missing money, either from their person or bank account.
Recognizing this type of abuse requires a trusted financial expert or family member to monitor all financial transactions of the elderly person.
5) A Change in Mood or Demeanor
An elderly person suffering prolonged abuse will exhibit some signs like confusion, defensiveness, anxiety, depression, or a reluctance to interact socially with their peers or loved ones. Sometimes, the elderly individual may make excuses or create implausible explanations for certain things like bruises or why their room was not cleaned.
The above are the main signs indicating elderly abuse. Of course, not every type of abuse will manifest as one of the signs above. For instance, emotional abuse could simply manifest as a reluctance to discuss an issue. Caregivers could be yelling at an elderly person at every opportunity as long as there is no one around to witness it.
While uncommon, there are instances of caregivers sexually exploiting elderly individuals. This could be in the form of fondling, inappropriate or crude jokes and remarks, groping, and any unsolicited attention. In extreme cases, there are caregivers that have been known to rape elderly individuals. This is especially true if the elderly person is physically or mentally challenged.
Signs of sexual abuse include bleeding, bruising or sore genitals and thigh area, or any unexplained bout of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Neglect could take many forms. Whether it’s depriving an elderly person of a medical aid like a walker or forgetting to regularly tidy their beds, neglect constitutes abuse and is just as punishable under the law as things like physical abuse.
Ultimately, abuse is any treatment that demeans or injures someone, whether physically or emotionally. For instance, yelling at an elderly person or threatening to withhold their care can have a significant psychological effect on them, leading to things like depression.
Identifying the signs of elderly abuse requires vigilance. This is because the abuse could come from someone close to the elderly person, like a neighbor or a relative. Looking out for its first signs will enable timely intervention.