Most people grow up hearing lessons about respecting their elders. Those with aging family members often do everything in their power to help that older adult feel valued and independent for as long as possible. Yet, eventually, it may be necessary to secure professional support or to have elder adults move in with their children.
Unfortunately, those tasked with caring for an older adult will not always accept that responsibility gracefully. Both family members and professional caregivers could engage in elder abuse that endangers someone or substantially diminishes their quality of life. Others often have to take action to protect someone from elder abuse. The following are the most common warning signs of elder abuse.
Changes in behavior or personality
Someone enduring abuse will inevitably experience emotional upheaval and change their social behavior. People experiencing abuse that they cannot escape, including older adults, may begin to withdraw from their interpersonal relationships. Sometimes, they may become more emotional or angry. Other times, they may be less expressive and may fear letting people know how they feel.
Unexplained bruises and injuries
Elder abuse can involve physical violence that can leave marks on people. Other times, elder abuse can involve neglect that leads to someone getting hurt because they do not receive proper support. If someone has injuries not easily explained by reasonable experiences, then elder abuse might be the cause of those injuries.
Unusual financial habits
Financial abuse is a common form of elder abuse. It may occur on its own or in conjunction with other types of abuse and neglect. If someone begins spending their money in a very different manner than before, especially if they burn through cash or start paying for things for other people, those could be warning signs of ongoing elder abuse.
Caregivers not allowing private communication
Whether someone lives with family members or in a nursing home, they should have some degree of privacy. When other people come to visit, an older adult should receive privacy during their interactions with those people. Hovering caregivers can be a warning sign that those people do not want the older adult to communicate honestly about their recent experiences.
Preventable injuries and illnesses
Caregivers can help ensure that an older adult does not fall or develop bedsores. Proper support and regular interactions can significantly reduce the risk of these preventable medical issues. Someone who falls, develops bedsores or has other medical issues that caregivers can prevent may have experienced neglect.
Those who identify warning signs of elder abuse early may be able to protect someone from the worst possible outcomes including loss of major assets, emotional damage and permanent physical injury. Intervening to protect a loved one from elder abuse may require litigation to remove a guardian or to hold professional caregivers accountable for misconduct.