Tens of thousands of seniors are abused every year – in their own homes and in facilities responsible for their care. Elder abuse takes on many forms: emotional, physical, sexual, and neglect. Learning the signs of abuse can help you recognize when someone is being hurt, and strengthen your own defenses against elder abuse.
Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse
Countless caregivers have discounted signs of abuse as just part of the elderly one’s mental deterioration or dementia. Never should you, or anyone, dismiss signs or reports of abuse.
Signs of Abuse
- Tension or arguments between the caregiver and elderly person
- Changes in personality
- Unexplained signs of injury such as welts, cuts, or bruises
- Serious injuries such as broken bones or sprains
- Rope marks on wrists
- Broken eyeglasses
- Unexplained genital infections or diseases
- Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see elderly person alone
- Unusual weight loss or dehydration
- Unsanitary living conditions such as soiled sheets or dirty clothes
- Untreated bed sores, or poor hygiene
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of all the signs and symptoms of abuse. Any suspicious or unusual behaviors should be checked into immediately.
Preventing Elder Abuse
With elder abuse on the rise, it’s more important than ever to take proactive steps in preventing these tragedies. Three main ways to help are:
- Listening to seniors
- Intervening when you suspect abuse
- Educating others on recognizing the signs of abuse
If you have a loved one in the care of a nursing home, assisted living facility, or professional caregiver, you must stay as involved as possible. Keeping a close eye on your loved one is essential in recognizing changes in behavior that could indicate abuse.
When considering different nursing homes or assisted living facilities, find out as much as possible about their reputation. Ask for referrals, and check the internet for reviews. Interview the staff members to get a feel for their personalities and commitment to care.
When hiring private care, it’s very important to check references and ask for a complete background check – not only for the primary caregiver, but any back-up providers as well. Working with an agency that offers care management software is highly recommended so you can have real-time updates on your loved one’s daily care.
Periodically check the elderly person’s medications to make sure they are being administered correctly. Check the senior’s body for sores or bruises, and be watchful for any changes in appetite, habits, or mood.
According to data from elder care services, for every case of elder abuse reported, 12 or 13 are not. If you are an elderly person being abused, don’t be ashamed to reach out for help. Tell your doctor, a family member, or a trusted friend. You can also call 1-800-677-1116 to speak to a representative for Eldercare Locator. You will be referred to a local agency that will help make sure you are never harmed again.