4 Signs of Elder Abuse

4 Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect

If you have parents, grandparents, or other loved ones currently living in a nursing or elder care home, you want them to be safe, happy, and well cared for. Unfortunately, you cannot be there every day to look after them, and sometimes the unthinkable can happen.

Nobody knows for sure the prevalence of elder abuse. Different studies on the subject have reached different results. However, the numbers these studies published are chilling:

  • 7.6 to 10 percent of respondents reported experiencing elder abuse during the previous year
  • Another study estimated that only 7 percent of elder abuse cases ever get reported
  • 13 out of 14 cases of abuse never come to the attention of authorities

If you are concerned about your elderly loved one’s welfare, keep an eye out for the following four signs of elder abuse.

1. Unexplained Wounds

If your loved one displays any of the following, it could be a sign that someone trusted with his or her care has been inflicting abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises
  • Bleeding
  • Open sores
  • Burns
  • Scratches
  • Ligature marks around the wrists, ankles, or throat

A single instance of a mild bruise is probably nothing to worry about, without other indicators. However, a pattern of unexplained wounds, burns, or bruising is probably an indication that something is amiss.

Ask your loved one how they received the injuries. Even if they deny that someone has been hurting them, it is still wise to be wary. Many victims of elder abuse are afraid to report it, out of fear of reprisal. If their responses to your queries seem to make no sense, consider following up to find out more.

2. Bed Sores or Infections

Repeated instances of bedsores and infections in nursing home patients might be an indication of neglect. Active elder abuse is probably not occurring, but your loved ones might not be receiving the care they need.

Bedsores occur when a patient stays immobile for long periods, and are the result of unrelieved pressure on the dermis, or outer skin layer. Reputable and efficiently run elder care facilities monitor immobile patients and help them relieve the pressure by regularly rolling onto one side or the other.

A pattern of bedsores and infections might indicate that caregivers are neglecting your loved one’s needs.

3. Listlessness or Depression

Victims of elder abuse often fall into a state of listlessness or depression caused by feelings of helplessness and despair. If your loved one, who has, up until this point, been mentally acute and aware, suddenly becomes unresponsive and seemingly unaware of his or her surroundings, it might indicate elder abuse is occurring. Of course, many other things can cause listlessness and depression, including medicines, loneliness, and deteriorating health. However, if the behavior arises suddenly, take note.

4. Disappearance of Personal Items

If your loved one’s personal items disappear without explanation, it might indicate caregivers, administrators, or other patients have taken them. Again, one instance is not cause for alarm, but a pattern of this type could spell trouble.

Most elder care facilities are reputable and safe. However, if you encounter any of the above signs, especially two or more combination, be aware that it could indicate your loved one is a victim of elder abuse.


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