Because the older population throughout the country is quickly growing, it is more important than ever before that we realize that a rise in elder population also means that we are likely to see a rise in elder abuse. Each year there are over 2 million cases of elder abuse reported. The estimate is that for every case that is reported, as many as five might go unreported. Even though most of us hope that elder abuse is something that we never need to be aware of, we wanted to provide you with some signs of elder abuse that you should look for.
Sign #1 – Changes in finance
One of the potential signs of elder abuse is a drastic change in financial situation that cannot be explained. We often assume that abuse means physical or sexual, but financial abuse is a genuine problem. A parent may be manipulated or bullied into giving away large sums of money or rewriting a will.
Do you find that your parent is suddenly unable to pay for things that they should be able to? Are there unpaid bills lying around? Do they try to avoid financial questions? Those may be indicative of a problem. Be aware though, finances are a tricky subject to bring up.
Sign #2 – Changes in behavior
If a parent notices that they are losing independence, it is normal for them to become upset or angry. However, if your parent was upbeat and cheerful and they suddenly become negative and moody, that might mean that there is more going on than just the mourning of independence.
When stuck in an abusive situation, most elders feel ashamed and do not want others to know what is going on. They may feel as though they are somehow to blame for the abuse, have feelings of worthlessness, and are left feeling stupid. Your loved one may become withdrawn and stop participating in their favorite activities
Sign #3 – A lack of basic care
The caregiver is there to provide for someone’s basic needs when he or she is unable to take care of them. This means providing a safe environment, comfort, physical cleanliness, and adequate nutrition and water. It may also include driving the person to doctor’s appointments, offering medication, and more. If they do not care for their residents, it is considered abandonment. Abandoned or neglected elders may have untreated medical conditions, appear dehydrated or malnourished, have inadequate heat in the winter, or wear dirty clothing.
Sign #4 – Unexplained injuries
For aggressive and violent people, seniors are often the perfect target. They are often unable to fight back and are fragile. Their diminished mental capacity may make them completely unaware of what is going on or they feel ashamed about a particular situation.
Because seniors often have medical conditions that may lead to injuries, it can often explain broken bones, bruises, burns, or cuts. However, if these injuries are localized to one part of the body, occur repeatedly, or are accompanied by odd behavior on the part of the caregiver or the elder, it may be indicative of more serious problems.