Summary: Elder abuse occurs all-too-often in assisted living or other care giving environments. The signs of abuse or neglect may be obvious, however, at times, the signs may be more subtle. Learn to identify exploitation, abuse or neglect of seniors.
Written by: The staff at Assisted Living Directory
We don’t often hear about “Thirty-somethings” abuse or “Middle-age” neglect. These demographics are by and large more healthy and able to take care of themselves. It’s when we have a group that is often times sick, memory impaired, or physically handicapped that we start to see abuse and neglect. Seniors are unfortunately a group that are often targets of bad intentions and criminal conduct. It’s enough for us to try to ensure that our seniors receive adequate and proper care when they are in a caregiving or assisted living environment, and attempting to police and monitor the care on the level of safety and abuse can prove to be quite difficult in many cases. The signs of exploitation can sometimes be almost unrecognizable. Add to that the challenge of mental illness, or the incapacity to speak due to a disease like Alzheimer’s, our elderly may be utterly helpless in trying to communicate that they are being abused or taken advantage of.
Any signs of abuse or neglect, whether you think they are perceived or real must never be ignored. Although this page is not exhaustive, we have detailed several of the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
On a physical level, abuse and neglect may be easier to spot. Of course, of your mother, father, or grandparent is showing bruises, cuts, burns or broken bones, immediate attention and action must be taken. Naturally, our elderly may be more prone to falls or accidents, and there may be a legitimate cause for the injury. The facility where your loved one resides should have a record of this and be able to explain the cause of the injury. How your loved one reacts around the staff can also be an indicator. Much like a pet who cowers when abused, a human loved one may act in much the same way when the abuser is present. Constant communication with your loved one and the facility staff is very important.
Psychologically, the signs of abuse might be a little harder to recognize. If your loved one is constantly concerned with what the caregiver or staff wants or needs (ad the dismissal of their own needs), mental or psychological abuse might be occurring. If your loved one begs you not to leave when you visit, this may also be a sign. If you notice new phobias, or if your loved one becomes frightened at things that he/she was not afraid of before, psychological harm may be happening.
An area of exploitation that is often overlooked is with your loved one’s finances. Many seniors may have a nice nest-egg or life savings, and not a whole lot to do with it other than pay for caregiver fees. Criminally-minded people have, and will take advantage of this at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, the signs of financial exploitation are not always apparent. Hopefully, your loved one will have assigned someone to help out with, or monitor their finances – obviously, someone trustworthy. Unexplained withdrawals, valuables disappearing (like wedding rings, or heirlooms), or unusual contributions to charities or other ’causes’ are all possible signs of financial exploitation.
Unfortunately, we can’t take anyone for granted, and amazingly, many times abuse is committed by someone the ‘abused’ knows – like a family member or ‘friends.’
There are far more great, honest people and caregivers out there than not – and we applaud those who live, care, and operate with the highest of ethics and love. However, it only takes one misaligned person to cause some real damage.
Reporting Abuse: Please call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. The person who answers the phone will refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator answers the phone Monday through Friday, 9 am to 8 pm, Eastern Time. More information on Reporting Abuse.
– by the staff at Assisted Living Directory
Seems like there are more and more news stories coming through on abuse and neglect situations – I do google alerts for assisted living and it seems like a good number of the stories are ‘unfortunate.’
8 September 2015 at 9:16 am
There’s a good page on this site that also brings up a good point – if a family suspects abuse, and are not in the same town as their family member who is in an assisted living home – they can call a Long-Term Care Ombudsman to investigate.
3 November 2011 at 9:17 am
I’m concerned about the care my Mom is getting at a LTC. No one seems to be held responsible for anything…it’s like no one gives a dam about anything. What can I do? Short of moving her. Communicating doesn’t seem to help no matter WHO I talk with.
11 May 2009 at 11:37 pm
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Assisted Living with How To Identify Elder Abuse or Neglect