How to Spot Elder Abuse and Stop It

Watching an elderly relative’s health deteriorate is never easy; however, it can be utterly heartbreaking to believe they are the victim of elder abuse, which could be emotional, physical, or financial abuse. Sadly, one in ten people over the age of 60 experience abuse or exploitation. This abuse can be at the hands of family members, caregivers, or in their nursing home. If you believe a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, here is what you should do.

Look for Signs of Financial Exploitation

Elder abuse can be anything that will have a long-lasting effect on the victim, such as financial exploitation. If you suspect there is foul play in a nursing home or at home, you should aim to spot the signs, which could range from missing property, checks, credit or debit cards, or insufficient funds in your loved one’s bank account. Unfortunately, the abusers are often family members, so you must aim to identify the culprit.

Identify Neglect

Many caregivers are sadly guilty of neglect. Elder abuse could, therefore, range from inadequate medical care to failing to wash their clothes or dirty dishes. Older adults should not be forced to live in unsanitary conditions, and they have a right to appropriately managed medications. Other signs of elder abuse could be fatigue or dry lips, which are a sign of dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, or unexplainable medical complaints.

Look for Unexplained Bodily Injuries

Physical abuse can result in an injury or impairment for a loved one. If you suspect physical abuse, try to look for unexplained injuries on your loved one’s body, which could be cuts, scratches, bruises, broken bones or even a brain injury. All physical marks must not be ignored, as they could be a sign of a bigger problem for your elderly relative.

Aim to Detect Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is often difficult to detect, but it could potentially have a significant impact on your loved one. For example, if an elderly relative seems genuinely afraid of a caregiver or family member, and appears disconnected from the rest of their family and friends, it could be a sign of psychological abuse. They may also act differently from the norm. Also, if a relative has a mental illness, then their behavior might be more severe.

Learn About the Law

Did you know there are both federal and state laws to protect aging people from elder abuse? The Elder Justice Act of 2009 is the most comprehensive bill to have ever been passed, and its sole aim is to prevent aging people from experiencing elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Mistreatment is now taken very seriously, which is why more people are starting to report it.

If you believe your loved one is a victim of elder abuse at home, in a nursing home or a medical setting, you should report your suspicions to a nurse. Nurses, among other healthcare professionals, are required by law to report any suspicions of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable by criminal and civil legal systems if they choose to intentionally not report it. A nurse will thoroughly understand that if a colleague has not committed elder abuse, then they will have no reason to fear a criminal investigation, job loss, or demotion.

Report Your Suspicions

In addition to talking to a nurse, you can also report elder abuse to the Adult Protective Services. If you suspect elder abuse, the first thing you must do is document the signs. For example, you should take photographs of your loved one’s injuries, write notes related to changes in their behavior, write detailed descriptions of injuries, and you should also request written statements from both the victim and any witnesses. This information could ultimately support your report to ensure it is handled accurately and quickly.

Contact the Care Ombudsman

If you suspect elder abuse in a nursing home or another care facility, you must contact the long-term care ombudsman, as every state will have a program. They will strive to investigate a claim and resolve complaints as soon as possible and will be an advocate on behalf of a resident’s rights.

Hire an Attorney

You will want to do everything in your power to protect an aging relative, such as a parent or grandparent. However, the ombudsman agency where you logged the claim could be understaffed or under-resourced. What’s more, they might be attempting to juggle multiple claims, so your loved one’s case could be at the bottom of their pile. For this reason, you must hire an experienced nursing home neglect and abuse attorney, such as Peake & Fowler, who have the tools and knowledge needed to stop any further misconduct taking place in a nursing home, so your loved one’s health and well-being will be protected. A free consultation will also be confidential, and you’ll be under no obligation to move forward.

Call 911 for Severe Elder Abuse

Anyone who suspects elder abuse is severe and is likely to happen again must immediately call 911 to investigate a claim. There is no reason to be embarrassed about making the phone call, as you have a responsibility to protect your loved one from further harm and bring the abuser to justice. If further assistance is required for your loved one, a police officer can investigate your claim while identifying the best way to provide your relative with the help they need. The earlier stop your loved one from elder abuse, the better quality of life he or she will have.


Never allow an aging relative to suffer in silence when you have the power to stop it. It is important to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and file a report as soon as you suspect elder abuse, regardless if it is physical, financial, or emotional. It doesn’t matter if their victim is someone at a care facility or their loved one; you must report a claim to the authorities to ensure they will come to no future harm.

Thanks to Ana

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