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A Cry for Help: How to Recognize Elder Abuse
Signs of Abuse
- Bruises, marks, or welts around the arms, neck, wrist, and/or ankles
- Burns, often to the palms, soles, and buttocks
- Sprains and dislocations
- Frequent unexplained injuries
- Minimizing the importance of injuries or refusing to discuss them
- Refusing to go to the same emergency department for repeated injuries
- Lack of communication or responsiveness
- Unreasonable fear or suspicion
- Not wanting to socialize
- Chronic physical or psychiatric health problems
- Unexplained bleeding from the vagina or anus
- Underwear that is torn or bloody
- Bruised breasts
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Vaginal infections
Financial or Material Exploitation
- Life circumstances that do not match the size of the elder’s estate
- Large withdrawals from bank accounts
- Switching bank accounts
- Unusual ATM activity
- Signatures on checks that do not match elder’s signature
- Sunken eyes
- Weight loss
- Extreme thirst
- Bed sores
- Excessive dirt or odor on body or clothing
- Glasses, hearing aids, dentures, and walking devices in poor condition or missing
- Inappropriate clothes
Common Factors in Elder Abuse and Neglect
What You Can Do About Elder Abuse and Neglect
- Do not worry about meddling into someone else’s business. You could be saving a life.
- Contact your state’s adult protective services agency or other services that investigate allegations of elder abuse and neglect.
- Do not confront the abuser unless you have the victim’s permission and are able to move him or her to a safe place immediately.
- Always keep your personal safety in mind.
- If you can find someone who can remove you from the situation (such as your doctor, a trusted friend, or member of the clergy), do so at once.
- Let your doctor know about the abuse.
- If you are able to get to a phone, call protective services or a friend who can help you find safety.
- Find ways to relieve the stress of having total responsibility for the elder person’s care. Look into local respite and day care programs.
- You can find new ways of relating that are not abusive. Talk to someone who can help you, such as your doctor, a trusted friend, family member, or therapist.
- Find a support or self-help group, especially if you have substance abuse problems.
- If you cannot afford private therapy, contact your city or state mental health services department.
- Be honest about your abusive behavior.
National Center on Elder Abuse http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/
US Administration on Aging http://www.aoa.gov/
Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse http://www.cnpea.ca/
Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse http://www.onpea.org/
Elder abuse and neglect: in search of solutions. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/pi/aging/eldabuse.html . Accessed June 16, 2008.
Edler abuse—work in progress. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated August 2009. Accessed April 14, 2010.
Elder rights and resources: elder abuse. US Administration on Aging website. Available at: http://www.aoa.gov . Updated June 2008. Accessed June 16, 2008.
Major types of elder abuse. National Center on Elder Abuse website. Available at: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov . Updated November 2007. Accessed June 16, 2008.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 04/2010
- Update Date: 04/14/2010