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What is elder abuse?

Photo of older man's face. What is elder abuse?

If you’re wondering what is elder abuse, you’ve come to the right place. Elder abuse refers to any intentional or negligent act that causes harm or creates a serious risk of harm to an older adult. Below are some of the different types of elder abuse.

Physical abuse

This involves the use of force that causes physical pain or injury, including hitting, pushing, shaking, and restraining.

Some of these warning signs include:

  1. Unexplained bruises, cuts, or welts in unusual or symmetric patterns, particularly on the face, neck, or arms.
  2. Broken bones or fractures, particularly if the explanation provided is vague or inconsistent with the injury.
  3. Sprains, dislocations, or other injuries that could result from excessive force or rough handling.
  4. Burns, particularly if they are in the shape of an object, such as a cigarette or iron.
  5. Unexplained weight loss or malnutrition, which could indicate neglect or abuse.
  6. Agitation or fear around a particular caregiver or family member.
  7. Withdrawal or isolation from social activities, which may be due to fear or embarrassment.
  8. Unexplained changes in behavior or personality, such as increased confusion or depression.
  9. Reluctance to talk about injuries or explain how they occurred.
  10. Refusal to see a doctor or seek medical attention for injuries.

It’s important to remember that these warning signs alone do not necessarily mean that abuse is occurring, but they should prompt further investigation and action to ensure the safety and well-being of the older person.

Emotional or psychological abuse

This can include verbal abuse, threats, humiliation, intimidation, or isolation, which causes emotional pain, distress, or anguish. Emotional or psychological abuse of an older person can have serious and long-lasting effects on their mental and emotional well-being. Here are some warning signs that may indicate emotional or psychological abuse of an older person:

  1. Unusual changes in behavior or personality, such as becoming more withdrawn, anxious, or depressed.
  2. Fear or anxiety around a particular caregiver or family member.
  3. Insulting or belittling the older person, name-calling, or using other forms of verbal abuse.
  4. Ignoring or isolating the older person from friends or family members.
  5. Threatening the older person with harm or abandonment.
  6. Restricting the older person’s freedom or movement, such as not allowing them to leave the house or make their own decisions.
  7. Treating the older person like a child or infantilizing them.
  8. Blaming or accusing the older person of things they did not do.
  9. Controlling or manipulating the older person’s finances, medications, or other aspects of their life.
  10. Refusing to provide the older person with needed care, such as medication or medical treatment.

If you suspect that someone is experiencing emotional or psychological abuse, it is important to speak up and report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. Remember that emotional or psychological abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse and should not be ignored.

Sexual abuse

This involves any form of unwanted sexual contact or exploitation, including rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.

Here are some warning signs that may indicate sexual abuse of an older person:

  1. Unexplained bruising, bleeding, or pain around the genitals.
  2. Torn or bloody underwear or clothing.
  3. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially if the older person is not sexually active or is in a monogamous relationship.
  4. Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.
  5. Difficulty sitting or walking, or pain during bowel movements.
  6. Agitation, anxiety, or withdrawal around a particular caregiver or family member.
  7. Unexplained changes in behavior or personality, such as becoming more withdrawn, anxious, or depressed.
  8. Unexplained financial transactions, such as large cash withdrawals or purchases of expensive gifts for a caregiver or family member.
  9. Evidence of pornography or other sexually explicit materials in the home.
  10. Unwillingness to be left alone with a particular caregiver or family member.

If you suspect that someone is experiencing sexual abuse, it is important to report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. Remember that sexual abuse is a serious and traumatic form of elder abuse that should never be ignored.

Financial abuse

This occurs when someone misuses or steals an older person’s money, property, or assets, including theft, fraud, or scams.

Here are some warning signs that may indicate financial abuse of an older person:

  1. Unexplained or sudden changes in an older person’s financial situation, such as large withdrawals or transfers of money.
  2. Missing cash, valuables, or personal items from the older person’s home.
  3. Unpaid bills or utilities despite adequate income or assets.
  4. Forged signatures on financial documents or checks.
  5. Changes to an older person’s will, power of attorney, or other legal documents that are not consistent with their wishes.
  6. Coercion or pressure to sign over control of finances or property to a caregiver or family member.
  7. Unnecessary or excessive purchases or withdrawals by a caregiver or family member using the older person’s credit or debit cards.
  8. Unusual activity on the older person’s bank or credit card statements, such as unauthorized charges or withdrawals.
  9. Lack of adequate food, clothing, or medical care despite the availability of sufficient funds or assets.
  10. Unwillingness to discuss financial matters with trusted family members or professionals.

If you suspect that someone is experiencing financial abuse, it is important to report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. Remember that financial abuse is a serious form of elder abuse that can have devastating consequences for an older person’s financial security and overall well-being.

Neglect

This refers to the failure to provide necessary care or support, including food, shelter, medical care, or personal hygiene.

Here are some warning signs that may indicate neglect of an older person:

  1. Unusual weight loss or malnutrition, which can indicate a lack of adequate food or nutrition.
  2. Dehydration or unexplained urinary tract infections, which can indicate a lack of adequate fluids.
  3. Untreated or uncontrolled medical conditions, such as bedsores or infections, which can indicate a lack of medical care.
  4. Poor personal hygiene, such as unwashed hair or dirty clothing, which can indicate a lack of assistance with daily activities.
  5. Lack of adequate heat or cooling in the older person’s home, which can indicate a lack of adequate shelter.
  6. Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions, such as cluttered or dirty living spaces, which can indicate a lack of adequate housekeeping or maintenance.
  7. Unmet basic needs, such as lack of clean clothing, bedding, or hygiene products.
  8. Isolation or lack of social interaction, which can indicate a lack of adequate emotional support or companionship.
  9. Lack of appropriate medication management, which can indicate a lack of adequate care for chronic conditions.
  10. Unaddressed safety hazards in the older person’s home, such as slippery floors or uneven walking surfaces.

If you suspect that someone is experiencing neglect, it is important to report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. Remember that neglect is a serious form of elder abuse that can have severe and even life-threatening consequences for an older person’s health and well-being.

Abandonment

This occurs when someone who has assumed responsibility for an older adult, such as a caregiver or family member, deserts or abandons the individual.

Here are some warning signs that may indicate abandonment of an older person:

  1. Older person is left alone for extended periods of time without adequate food, water, or care.
  2. Lack of personal hygiene, such as soiled clothing or bedding, which can indicate a lack of assistance with daily activities.
  3. Unaddressed medical needs, such as untreated injuries or infections, which can indicate a lack of medical care.
  4. Untidy living conditions, such as dirty dishes or clutter, which can indicate a lack of assistance with household chores.
  5. A caregiver or family member fails to provide transportation to necessary appointments or errands.
  6. Older person expresses feelings of loneliness or abandonment.
  7. A caregiver or family member does not return phone calls or respond to messages from the older person or other concerned parties.
  8. Lack of basic necessities, such as medication, groceries, or household supplies.
  9. Unexplained changes in the older person’s financial situation, such as unpaid bills or missing money, which can indicate that the caregiver or family member has abandoned their responsibilities.
  10. Unexplained or prolonged absences by the caregiver or family member.

If you suspect that someone is experiencing abandonment, it is important to report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. Remember that abandonment is a serious form of elder abuse that can have severe and even life-threatening consequences for an older person’s health and well-being.

Self-neglect

This occurs when an older adult fails to meet their basic needs, such as food, shelter, or medical care, due to their own behavior or mental or physical impairment.

Here are some warning signs that may indicate self-harm by an older person:

  1. Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, or other injuries.
  2. Frequent accidents or injuries that do not seem to be caused by external factors.
  3. Unwillingness to discuss injuries or provide explanations for them.
  4. Wearing clothing that covers the entire body, even in warm weather.
  5. Isolation or withdrawal from social activities or relationships.
  6. Changes in eating habits or sudden weight loss.
  7. Increased use of alcohol or other substances.
  8. Neglect of personal hygiene, including bathing or grooming.
  9. Expressing feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or despair.
  10. Talking about or making plans for suicide.

If you suspect that someone is engaging in self-harm, it is important to seek professional help immediately. Older adults who engage in self-harm may be at increased risk for suicide, and prompt intervention can help prevent serious harm. Contact a mental health professional, medical provider, or emergency services if you are concerned about an older person’s well-being.

Conclusion.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of elder abuse in their golden years, don’t suffer in silence. At SWPL, we understand the devastating impact that elder abuse can have on older adults and their families. That’s why we are committed to helping victims of elder abuse seek justice and recover the compensation they deserve.

Our experienced elder abuse attorneys are here to help. We will work tirelessly to investigate your case, identify the responsible parties, and hold them accountable for their actions. We understand the complexities of elder abuse cases and have the skills and resources necessary to pursue justice on your behalf.

Don’t let elder abuse go unpunished. Contact us today at 602-443-4888 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal rights and options. Together, we can fight back against elder abuse and protect our seniors from harm.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.

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