Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse

With an increasing population of elderly as a result of the Baby Boom generation, statistics show that elder abuse is more prevalent than ever. According to the Administration on Aging every year an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as five cases go unreported. One study recognized that for every case of elder abuse reported to agencies nearly 25 go unreported!

Who Should You be Cautious of?

You might be surprised to know that most abusers are not professional caregivers.  Most elder abusers are family members of the abused.


Elder abuse will happen, but everyone can act to protect seniors.


Abuse of an elderly person can take on many forms.  Elder abuse can be aggressive or passive and non-responsive in nature, but can be distilled down to three main categories:  physical, mental or financial. If you observe any blatant signs of abuse — name-calling, threats, inappropriate contact, unreasonable restraints, withholding of food or medication, etc. — you should take immediate steps to stop it.


spot elder abuse

stopping senior abuse

cautionary signs of elderly abuse

Elder abuse, however, is rarely that obvious.


Many of the conditions and events listed below may be caused by occurrences unrelated to abuse, but then again maybe your relative is being abused. Use this basic elder abuse checklist to quantify possible signs. If you notice the following occurrences or conditions, it is important to carefully monitor your relative’s care or alert the authorities. To report suspected abuse,  contact your local adult protective services agency. For state reporting numbers, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.


Be mindful that an accusation or even suggestion of elder abuse is a very serious thing, and should not be undertaken lightly or carelessly.


Physical or mental abuse may be causing the following conditions:


• Unexplained agitation


• Depression or withdrawal


• Hesitation to talk openly


• Fearfulness of caregivers


• Confusing or contradictory statements by an otherwise competent senior


• Resignation or denial of conditions


• Recurring or unexplained injuries


• A combination of new and old injuries


• Implausible explanations of injuries or conditions


• Denial of an injured state


• Injuries without underlying diseases, or incompatible with medical history, including cuts, lacerations, puncture wounds, bruises, welts or discoloration


• Any injury that looks like it may be have been caused by cigarettes, caustics, acids, friction from ropes or chains or contact with other objects


• Poorly treated or untreated injuries


• Injuries in areas usually covered by clothing


• Poor skin condition/poor skin hygiene/lice


• Absence of hair and/or hemorrhaging below the scalp


• Dehydration or malnutrition that is unrelated to illness


• Loss of weight


• Soiled clothing or bedding


• An environment that is excessively dirty or smells of feces or urine


• Inadequate clothing


Financial abuse may be causing the following conditions:


• A sudden lack of knowledge about financial matters


• A sudden refusal to make financial decisions or pay bills without consulting another person


• Unusual or inappropriate banking activity


• Signatures on your relative’s checks or other financial documents, particularly when your relative can no longer write


• The creation of a power of attorney or will, when your relative is incapacitated


• Numerous unpaid bills and overdue rent when someone is supposed to be handling your relative’s finances


• Lost valuables


Caregiver behavior that should raise suspicion of abuse includes:


• The caregiver does not allow your relative to speak for herself


• The caregiver does not allow your relative to visit with others out of the caregiver’s presence


• The caregiver expresses that your relative’s injuries or undesirable behavior is deliberate or self-inflicted


• The caregiver has a history of abusing others


• The caregiver has problems with alcohol or drugs


• The caregiver is inappropriately affectionate or sexual


• The caregiver restricts the activity of or isolates your relative


• The caregiver’s explanation of an injury or incident conflicts with your relative’s account


• The caregiver is unwilling or reluctant to comply with instructions from other care providers


• The caregiver is inappropriately defensive when asked to explain an injury or occurrence


• The caregiver has unjustified control of your relative’s finances


• The caregiver refuses services that your relative needs


• The caregiver is unusually concerned about the amount of money being expended on your relative’s care


 Please protect seniors and join us in taking a stand against elder abuse this year! Visit and commit to do something extra this year to raise awareness in your community about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation!

If you would like to learn more about how B-Homecare can help you or your loved one, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. You are not committed to any services by speaking with one of our knowledgeable staff. We would be excited to be help you to learn more and welcome the opportunity to try to help!

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