Learn to Recognize Signs, Symptoms of Elder Abuse

Posted on August 19, 2011

According to news sources, elder abuse in the U.S. is on the rise, leading to more Americans 65 years of age and older being abused mentally and physically, financially exploited, and neglected.

Approximately five million elderly people may suffer abuse in some form of abuse annually, estimates the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Most often the individuals inflicting the abuse are those closest to the victim: spouses, relatives, and caregivers. It is believed that elder abuse costs billions of dollars each year due to social services, health care, legal and investigative costs, as well as in lost assets and income.

To prevent elder abuse, which can be fatal, families and caregivers should look for warning signs of abuse:

Signs of physical or sexual abuse: Bruises, rope burns (or other signs of restraint) and a change in attitude can signal elder abuse. Another red flag is if a caregiver will not allow access or visitation to the elder.

Signs of psychological abuse: Insults, threats and social isolation are all forms of psychological abuse. If an elder is upset, withdrawn or unresponsive, there may be cause for concern.

Signs of neglect: As with children, neglect can be extremely harmful to an older person’s health. Medical conditions like dehydration, malnutrition and bedsores can signal neglect. Environmental issues like soiled linens or clothing or a lack of personal items such as dentures or glasses can also be signs of neglect.

Signs of financial exploitation: Keep tabs on older loved one’s finances, keeping an eye out for “misplaced” credit or debit cards, missing checkbooks, unexplained bank withdrawals, and the disappearance of valuables.

As a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney, I encourage families to be vigilant in order to prevent elder abuse, and I urge elders to speak up if they are being abused or taken advantage of.

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