How to Recognize (and Stop) Elder Abuse Signs in SeniorsSeptember 15, 2021
How to Recognize (and Stop) Elder Abuse Signs in Seniors
Taking care of an older person is a difficult job. Especially when that older person has mobility issues, cognitive issues, or chronic conditions. That need medical care. Many elderly people who need care don’t want to go into a nursing home or assisted living. Family members may be unwilling or unable to care for their elderly relatives. Added to all this stress is the fear of elder abuse and neglect. The National Institute on Aging estimates that; hundreds of thousands of seniors are victims of elder abuse and neglect each year. Most are women, but men have also been victims as well. The most common victims are older adults with disabilities. Especially memory problems or dementia.
What is Elder Abuse and Neglect?
Some elder abuse signs are obvious. For example, broken bones, strange bruises, or other unexplained injuries. But not all elder abuse includes physical signs of abuse. In addition to physical abuse, seniors may be subject to:
- Neglect, meaning their basic needs such as personal care or hygiene are not being met.
- Emotional abuse which can include yelling, hurtful words, or intentional isolation from friends and relatives.
- Seniors who are sexually abused are forced to engage in, or observe unwanted sexual activities.
- Financial abuse is also common. In extreme cases, the abuser will force the senior to sign over assets or power of attorney to them.
Because not all cases of elder abuse include physical abuse. It can be difficult to determine when abuse has happened. Especially when the victim has a memory issue that precludes them from recalling details of the abuse.
Recognizing Elder Abuse – What are the Signs?
The signs of abuse may not be obvious at first. However, there are some secondary signs of abusive behavior to watch out for. These may include things like:
- Problems with assistive devices or medical equipment (e.g. broken eyeglasses, missing walkers, etc.)
- Poor hygiene or cleanliness of the elderly person’s living space.
- The elderly person may seem more withdrawn or act out violently. They may also exhibit signs of trauma, like repeatedly rocking back and forth.
- Unexplained physical changes such as a lack of sleep or significant weight loss can come from a lack of proper nutrition, which is typical in cases of abuse and neglect.
- No matter what care setting the elderly person is in, pressure injuries (usually referred to as bedsores) may be a sign of neglect or improper care. There is controversy within medical experts about using pressure injuries as a sign of neglect or abuse, because some pressure injuries are unavoidable, however when viewed within a larger pattern of signs of abuse, they can be an additional indicator.
Additionally, there may be financial indicators of abuse and neglect as well, such as unpaid bills, unpaid rent notices or overdraft notices.
What to Do When You Suspect Abuse
The most important thing to do when you suspect an elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse or neglect is to get them the help they need as quickly as possible. If you believe they are in imminent danger, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, call the local adult protective services authorities (where the senior lives, not where you live). In Illinois, you can call the Illinois Department of Aging’s Adult Protective Services Hotline at (866) 800-1409. Many seniors may be reluctant to discuss their abuse with family, especially if the abuser is another family member, but may be willing to talk to an authority figure.
Prevention is the Best Cure
The best time to stop elder abuse and neglect is before it starts, having a professional at-home caregiver who is trained and supervised can go a long way. Toward the peace of mind you need when it concerns the care of your elderly loved ones. An in-home caregiver can allow your loved ones to stay in their home while receiving in-home help from a trained professional caregiver. An in-home caregiver from a home care agency can provide services from light housekeeping to meal planning and preparation to social interaction and companionship. Best of all, for qualifying seniors, the in-home care comes at no cost to them or their family.
When You Want to Be the Caregiver
Many people would love to take care of their elderly relatives, but can’t do so because of commitments to their work. For these cases, it may be possible for you to become a paid caregiver for your elderly relatives, making it easier for you to provide care yourself. With Home Care Powered by AUAF, your elderly loved one will always be able to choose their in-home caregiver.
Home Care Powered by AUAF is a Professional Home Care Agency for You
The dedicated staff and caregivers at Home Care Powered by AUAF know that the peace of mind that comes with quality in-home senior care is important to everyone involved. We provide paid training for our caregivers, as well as all the tools needed to make sure your elderly loved ones receive the care they need. Get more information or get started by contacting us or calling (773) 274-9262.
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