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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Understanding The Symptoms of Elder Abuse or Neglect

A horrific story hits the news. An aging Californian has been the victim of abuse, either at home or in a nursing home. Your stomach turns. You have elderly loved ones. How can you know if someone is abusing them? You need information to help you in understanding the symptoms of elder abuse or neglect.

A senior can suffer abuse at the hands of:

  • In-home caregivers
  • A spouse or intimate partner
  • A child or grandchild
  • Other family members
  • Nursing home staff
  • Other residents at a nursing home
  • Other trusted people, such as accountants, neighbors, clergy, or health care providers
  • Strangers

Elder abuse or neglect can take many forms. Any mistreatment that harms an older person can be elder abuse. Some of the categories are:

  • Physical or sexual abuse, including domestic violence
  • Psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect by a caregiver, or self-neglect by the elderly person

Certain symptoms should raise a red flag to you that your loved one needs help. A senior may have some of these signs without being a victim of abuse or neglect, but you should check on his wellbeing to be certain. You should never ignore these indications of elder abuse or neglect:

  1. Physical signs of trauma: including bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns, broken bones. Aging adults can bruise more easily, but bruising can also be an indication of abuse. Bruising around the wrists or ankles can be a result of physical restraints. Burns can be from neglect, as in the case of a bathtub scalding, or from intentional abuse. Never accept a burn or a fall at face value without further investigation.
  2. Physical changes: such as weight loss; cracked lips and dry skin; dirty clothes, skin, hair and bed linens; bed sores; or the smell of urine, feces, or body odor. Weight loss can happen when your loved one is not getting enough nourishing food to eat. Cracked lips and dry skin can indicate dehydration, which can quickly become a critical medical issue. If your loved one is not practicing good hygiene, it may be necessary to get in-home assistance. If his caregivers are neglecting him, he might not be getting regular baths, dental care, grooming, clean clothes or clean bed sheets.
  3. Mood or personality changes that are sudden and out of the ordinary. Everyone has a bad day now and then, but if you notice that your loved one is sullen, angry, depressed, sad, or acts as if he has lost all hope, he may be suffering abuse or neglect. If he is confused and weak, he may be the victim of chemical restraints. Some caregivers keep their patients sedated to make them more compliant and less demanding.
  4. Financial reversals: such as bills piling up, valuables missing, lower bank balances, or higher credit card balances. Financial abuse of the elderly is a growing problem. Their life savings can disappear, and they have no opportunity to replace the lost assets. While strangers commit some financial abuse, more often than not it is perpetrated by someone in the household, the care facility, a relative, a friend or a trusted professional.
  5. Inappropriate attitude or behavior toward your loved one by a caregiver or family member. If you notice that a caregiver or family member treats your loved one with disdain, hostility, anger or any other unkind attitude, you should be on your guard. If this person acts like that when people are watching, she may treat your loved one worse when no one is watching.

California law takes elder abuse and neglect seriously. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, do not ignore it. Call 911 for a dangerous situation.

For compassionate advice, talk to the professional elder law attorneys at Horizonlaw today by requesting a consultation.

 


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