Elder Abuse Awareness

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

Recognizing these warning signs of elder abuse can be a very effective tool in early intervention and prevention of further 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 rope marks on wrists • Caregiver's refusal to allow the elder to be seen alone

In addition to the general signs above, indications of emotional elder abuse include

  • Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that is witnessed
  • Behavior from the elder that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself
  • Bruises around breasts or genitals
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleedin
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • 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 elder at a public place
  • Significant withdrawals from the elder's accounts
  • Sudden changes in the elder's financial condition • Items or cash missing from the senior's household
  • Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies
  • Addition of names to the senior's signature card
  • Unpaid bills or lack of medical care, although the elder has enough money to pay for them
  • Financial activity the senior couldn't have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden
  • Unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions
  • Duplicate billings for the same medical service or device
  • Evidence of overmedication or under-medication
  • Evidence of inadequate care when bills are paid in full
  • Problems with the care facility:
    • Poorly trained, poorly paid, or insuf cient staff
    • Crowding
    • Inadequate responses to questions about care

Web Resources

Elder Abuse: Types, Signs, Risk Factors, and Prevention
HelpGuide.org provides useful advice for understanding, preventing and resolving elder abuse.

Financial Abuse
The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse informs on the broad spectrum of conduct apparent in elder financial abuse cases.

Elder Abuse Among Alzheimer’s Patients
The Alzheimer’s Association provides tips and information for protecting those with dementia or Alzheimer’s from elder abuse.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2009
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse provides information on celebrating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day across the planet.

The Elder Justice Coalition
The Elder Justice Coalition is a national advocacy voice supporting elder justice in America. Their Web site provides a gamut of information in the organization’s attempt to raise public awareness of the tragedy of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation at the local, state and national levels.