Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is the mistreatment of a person age 65 or older or a dependent adult, usually by someone who
has a special relationship with the person (a spouse, sibling, child, friend, or caregiver). Domestic elder abuse occurs in the home of the victim or caregiver; institutional abuse occurs in residential facilities for older people such as nursing homes.

  • Physical abuse is when physical force results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. Signs include unexplained bruises or bone fractures, broken eyeglasses, rope burns, and overdose or underutilization
    of prescribed drugs. Usually the caregiver who’s inflicting abuse refuses to allow visitors to see the older person alone.
  • Sexual abuse occurs when someone has non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly person. Signs include bruises around private areas or unexplained disease or infection of the genitals.
  • Emotional abuse is the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. Signs include extreme agitation or withdrawal with the elder person exhibiting unusual behavior—sucking, biting, or rocking that’s attributed to dementia.
  • Financial or material abuse is illegal or improper use of an elder person’s funds, property, or assets. Signs include sudden changes in an older person’s bank account or banking practices (unexplained or unauthorized withdrawals of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder, the inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card, etc.), abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents, unexplained disappearances of funds or valuable possessions, substandard care provided despite adequate resources, or discovery of an elder person’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his or her possessions.
  • Neglect is the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elderly person. Signs include dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, poor personal hygiene, and unsafe or
    unsanitary living conditions.
  • Abandonment is the desertion of an elderly person by an individual who has physical custody or has assumed responsibility for providing care. Abandonment can occur anywhere—at a hospital, shopping center, or other location.
  • Self-neglect is behavior of an elderly person that threatens his or her health or safety.