Five Indications of Elder Abuse

Baltimore attorney Doug Lauenstein discusses warning signs of elder abuse.

According to a 2014 report by the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are over two million elderly abuse cases every year. Nearly 10 percent of the elderly will experience some type of abuse, an alarming figure. Knowing the warning signs of elder abuse can mean the difference between abuse and safety.  Here are five simple indicators to be aware of.

Changes in finances. When a drastic change in finances cannot be explained, it could mean an elder is being abused. Someone could be stealing money outright or the elder may be manipulated into giving away large sums or even rewriting their will.

Some important red flags here include whether the elder has unpaid bills.  Do they suddenly seem unable to afford things they otherwise would? Do they dodge or ignore questions relating to finances? Has a caregiver made any large or unusual purchases? These questions can be helpful in identifying the potential issues at hand.

Change in behavior. Keep in mind that it is normal and expected for an elder to experience emotional distress over their loss of independence. Be realistic when making any judgment. However, any radical changes in behavior should be duly noted.

Look for signs such as the elder avoiding any discussion of their behavior or mood. They may change the subject or become withdrawn and stop participating in favorite activities.

Conflicts with a caregiver. The previously mentioned resentment due to a loss of independence can often manifest itself in arguments and struggles with the caregiver.

In some cases however, conflicts are the result of true abuse. Watch for contradictory stories regarding one or more issues. Caregiver abuse can range from mild to extreme physical or emotional harm. If you feel you’re getting incomplete or inaccurate information from a caregiver, discuss the incidents you are concerned about.

Lack of hygiene and basic care. Depending upon the elderly person’s health, caregiving duties can range from simple supervision to a highly-demanding and all-encompassing job. Basic needs may include nutrition and water intake, physical hygiene, and being sure the elder maintains a comfortable and safe environment.

Failure to provide any of these basic needs constitutes neglect on the part of the caregiver. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 58.5 percent of elderly abuse cases take the form of neglect, making it the most common type of abuse.

Signs to look for include dirty clothing, malnourishment and/or dehydration. Neglected elders may also have untreated medical conditions such as bedsores.

Unexplained injuries. Many elders are weak, fragile or unable to defend themselves in the instance of physical abuse. Due to diminished mental function, an elder may also be confused or unable to remember the harm that is being inflicted. Any cuts, burns, bruises or broken bones may be accidental, and legitimately explained by an elder’s frailty and impaired coordination. However, it is crucial to keep a close eye and make sure that these types of incidents do not occur repeatedly.

It is vital to closely monitor the situation between any elder and their caregivers to ensure that it is healthy. Knowing the red flags to look for may help to save an elder from suffering abuse. For more information on elder abuse, contact Baltimore attorney Doug Lauenstein today.