One of the most overlooked types of crimes in our society today are crimes against the elderly. Many people don’t realize that one in every ten seniors becomes the victim of elder abuse, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Worse yet, a 2015 study by the Elder Justice Policy Brief revealed that only one in 23 cases of elder abuse are reported. So how do so many cases of elder abuse go unnoticed? It has to do with recognizing the signs of elder abuse, and reporting those signs to the authorities.
What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?
When a child is abused, signs are often noticed immediately, whereas injuries to the elderly are often overlooked. That’s because injuries to the elderly are often blamed on falls or their frailty. However, certain signs can give away abuse almost every time, and here’s what you need to look for:
- Injuries– Cuts, pressure marks, bruises, broken bones, burns or any severe injury could be a sign of abuse. Just because seniors bruise easily or are prone to falls doesn’t mean an injury shouldn’t be investigated.
- Location of Injuries– Still unsure if an injury is an indication of abuse? Look at where the injury is located. Injuries near the elbows or wrists could indicate someone grappling with a senior. Bruising around the breasts or genital areas could indicate sexual abuse. Head and eye injuries could also indicate hitting, especially if there are multiple injuries.
- Behavioral Clues– Seniors often have no way to fight back when abused, so signs can sometimes manifest in their behaviors. Withdrawal from normal activities, depression, or even sensitivity to sudden movements could be a sign of abuse. Also look out for increases in sleeping, the loss of friends, and certain subtle comments like, “My nurse has a temper,” or “They don’t let me go out much.”
- Caregiver Behaviors– If a caregiver comes off as controlling or combative, it’s time to be alert. Many abuse cases are issues of power and greed, so abusers will use many methods to degrade the abused and keep them compliant. If you see a caregiver verbally lash out at a senior or argue with them frequently, abuse could be involved.
- Other Signs– You should also watch out for sudden changes in a senior’s financial situation, which could signal financial abuse. And you should note bedsores, weight loss, poor hygiene or medical issues that never seem to get resolved.
If we all work together, we can make a difference in the lives of our nation’s seniors. If you fear that your loved one may have fallen victim to abuse, call Adult Protective Services, the authorities and an elder abuse attorney. They can help get your loved one to safety and ensure that they have what they need to enjoy their golden years.
A message from the nursing home abuse lawyers at Keefe Law Firm—committed to fighting for the rights of seniors.