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Elder Abuse

The following indicators, by themselves, do not necessarily signify abuse or neglect. They may be clues, however, and thus helpful in assessment of abuse.

Physical abuse
Acts of violence such as pushing, hitting or pinching, or force feeding or improper use of restraints or medication.

Possible Indicators of Physical Abuse

  • Cuts, lacerations, puncture wounds, bruises, welts, discoloration, unexplained injury.
  • Poor skin condition or poor skin hygiene; Absence of hair and/or hemorrhaging below scalp.
  • Burns: may be caused by cigarettes, caustics, acids, friction from ropes or chains, etc.

Psychological neglect
Failure to provide social stimulation, or leaving an older person alone for long periods of time. Ignoring or giving the "silent treatment.

Possible Indicators of Psychological/Emotional Abuse

  • Hesitation to talk openly; Implausible stories; Confusion or disorientation.
  • Anger, fear, withdrawal, depression, denial, agitation, helplessness.

Physical neglect
Caregiver fails to provide necessary goods and services.

Possible Indicators of Neglect or Abuse by Caregiver

  • Rashes, sores, lice, inadequate clothing, malnourished, dehydration, or an untreated medical condition.
  • Caregiver blames the elder (e.g., accusation that incontinence is a deliberate act)
  • Aggressive behavior (threats, insults, harassment) by caregiver toward the elder.
  • Previous history of abuse of others, or previous problems with alcohol or other drugs.

Financial or Material Abuse Neglect
Failure to use available funds and resources to sustain or restore a person's health and well-being.

Possible Indicators of Financial Abuse

  • Unusual bank account activity; Inconsistent or implausible check signature.
  • Power of attorney given, or recent changes or creation of will, when the person is incapable of making such decisions.
  • Numerous unpaid bills, overdue rent, when someone is supposed to be paying the bills.
  • Placement in a facility which is not commensurate with alleged size of estate.
  • lack of affordable amenities, such as TV, personal grooming items, or appropriate clothing.
  • Missing personal belongings such as art, silverware, or jewelry.
  • Deliberate isolation, by a housekeeper, of an older adult from friends and family.

Violating Personal Rights
Denying the right to privacy and to make personal and health decisions. Includes forcible eviction or placement in a nursing home.

Possible Indicators

  • Flirtations, coyness, etc. as possible indicators of inappropriate sexual relationship.
  • Social isolation of family, or isolation or restriction of activity within the family unit.
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents by family, supporters, or victim.
  • Reluctance by the caregiver to comply with service providers in planning for care.
  • Inappropriate or unwarranted defensiveness by caregiver.
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