If you have an elderly loved one who lives alone, with others or in a facility, it's natural to be worried about their well-being. This is especially true if your family member or friend isn't able to communicate issues clearly due to physical or mental incapacity. In such situations, it's a good idea to know about common times of elder abuse and the symptoms of each.
Elder abuse typically falls into one of four categories: physical, emotional, sexual and financial. An older relative who is being abused in one way might also be experiencing other types of abuse, but that isn't always the case.
Physical abuse can take the form of active physical abuse, such as hitting or slapping, but it can also relate to neglect. If a caregiver is charged with taking care of someone else's physical needs and he or she fails to see to those needs, that can also be physical abuse. Some signs can include bruising, welts, recurring unexplained injuries, poorly treated wounds, bed sores, malnutrition, hair or weight loss and an unclean environment.
Emotional or psychological abuse is related to how someone speaks to and treats another person. Signs of such abuse include non-responsible affect, sleep or appetite issues, unexplained weight changes, depression or anxiety or nervous tics.
Sexual abuse involves sexual contact that isn't consensual. Someone without the appropriate mental capacity cannot grant consent. Signs of elder sexual abuse include inappropriate interactions, unexplained genital infections, difficult sitting or walking, bruising or bleeding in genital or breast areas and unusual behavior.
Financial abuse occurs when someone uses his or her role as caregiver, influencer or power of attorney in an inappropriate manner that is not beneficial to the older person. Signs can include a sudden new relationship, suspicious account activity, being secretive about finances, missing money or sudden changes in estate planning. If you think your older relative is being victimized in any of these ways, reach out to an elder law attorney to find out how you can best protect your loved one.
Source: FindLaw, "Signs Of Elder Abuse," accessed Feb. 24, 2017