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Keeping a Loved One Safe: How to Identify and Report Elder Abuse

how to report elder abuse

One in six people over the age of 60 experienced some type of elder abuse last year. With the aging population expected to double by 2050, even more people will be at risk.

Is your loved one safe in the hospital, nursing home, or assisted living center?

It’s hard to be sure if you don’t know the signs to look for. And, if you don’t know how to report elder abuse when it happens. Luckily, you’re in the right place.

There are five different types of elder abuse and they each have their own signs. Keep reading to find out what they are and what you can do to stop them.  

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse includes all types of violence and non-accidental uses of force. It often results in the elderly person getting injured, feeling pain, or even dying.

Some of the most common signs of physical abuse are bruises, welts, and burns. They may also have sprained or fractured bones or internal bleeding. Some acts of violence result in a concussion or severe migraines.

You can make sure your loved one isn’t being physically abused by being observant.

When they have injuries, do a full investigation on what happened. Victims of elder abuse are sometimes scared to discuss it, so it’s up to you to make sure they’re safe.  

Signs of Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse can be harder to spot than physical abuse. There are no obvious injuries or bruises. But, this type of abuse is just as damaging and destructive.

Some examples of psychological abuse are intimidation, humiliation, and scapegoating. The elder’s self-esteem gets destroyed. They might feel isolated from loved ones and terrorized by the abuser.

Notice signs of abuse by observing the elder’s behavior around different people. When their caregiver walks in the room, do they stop making eye contact? Do they avoid talking about their problems?

Notice how their caregivers behave. Are they hesitant to leave the elder alone with other people? Do they control the elder’s access to basic necessities like food and water?

Signs of Neglect

The lack of care from supposed caregivers is a form of abuse called neglect. Elderly people living in assisted living situations depend on others for survival. They need someone to prepare their food and give them their medication.

Some signs of neglect are the elder’s garments not getting changed enough. Also, lack of bathing and regular hygiene tasks. They may even have missed medications.

Neglect is a very common type of abuse for elders. It’s sometimes due to family members being in denial about their parent needing help. Look for signs of poor hygiene, dirty living conditions, and missed appointments.  

Signs of Financial Abuse

Elderly people are especially vulnerable to financial abuse. If they have a memory loss condition they might not be aware that someone’s taking their money. Or, they may feel forced to give their money to someone who’s pressuring them.

This type of abuse usually happens within families. You can protect your loved one by knowing the signs to look for. For example, missing debit or credit cards, missing checks, and empty bank accounts.

It’s crucial that elderly people have a loved one to look out for them. Someone needs to check that their banking is correct, and nothing seems suspicious.

Sometimes financial abuse isn’t as obvious as a missing credit card. Often, the elder feels pressure to give their family members money. The abusers use guilt to manipulate the elder.

Pay attention to how the senior talks about different family members. They might know what’s happening isn’t right but don’t want to say it.    

Signs of Healthcare Fraud and Abuse

Unethical doctors and caregivers can take advantage of seniors’ dependency. These situations include Medicaid fraud, overcharging for healthcare, and more.

In some cases, the doctor is getting kickbacks for selling certain drugs to people who don’t need them. They might recommend drugs for fake illnesses or illnesses the elder doesn’t have.

This is an abuse of power on the healthcare provider’s end. We’re taught to trust our doctor’s and providers. Seniors, especially those who depend on the system, can’t advocate for themselves.

Another form of healthcare abuse is over medicating or under medicating. This causes physical problems for the senior depending on their condition. Not to mention the psychological effects that occur when you don’t get the medication you need.

You can protect your loved one from abuse by getting opinions from different doctors. Learn about the illness they have and what other families have done about it. See what’s normal for others and compare it to your loved one’s situation.  

How to Report Elder Abuse

If you suspect your loved one is getting abused, don’t confront the abuser. This could lead to retaliation against the senior for telling you.

Instead, discuss it with other family members and friends of the senior. Figure out different care options to remove them from the abuser’s control.

Victims of abuse sometimes reject help. They have immense feelings of shame and guilt; admitting they’re a victim is hard. The abuser could have such a strong hold over them they can’t leave.

If they don’t want to change healthcare providers, be with them as much as you physically can. Take turns with your family members to check in on them and stay over. Remove the need for the caregiver to be there if you can.

In the case of an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1. You can also reach out to the Adult Protective Services to report the abuse.

Interested in Learning More About Senior Care?

Finding a safe place for your loved one to receive care is important. You need to trust the people taking care of your elderly parent or family member.

Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s need extra care and services. They’re also extra vulnerable to abuse. Use the tips above to know how to report elder abuse. 

If your senior loved one needs care or health services, Seasons can help. Learn more about Seasons’ assisted living facility or request a tour. All seniors deserve ethical, compassionate, and effective care.