Signs That a Loved One May Be a Victim of Elder Abuse: What You Can Do About It

No one wants to think about the horrible realities of elder abuse as it’s one of the most tragic and unjust situations you can think of. Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 10 of these people suffer from elder abuse every year, according to some estimates. This could very well include someone you know and care about. Therefore, educate yourself on the signs of elder abuse and neglect so you may help the senior in your life out of this horrible situation.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse and neglect is an act of violence or terror against an elderly person. Since most seniors are frail, they may not be able to fight back or resist — which makes this an even more serious and devastating issue.

Elders can experience abuse in nursing facilities or even their own homes. There are seven types of abuse.

  • Sexual
  • Mental
  • Physical Violence
  • Financial Abuse
  • Self-neglect
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment

Any older person can be a victim of one or more of these types of traumas, no matter their race, ethnicity, status, or gender.

However, more than often, patients with diseases such as dementia and memory loss are likely to face these horrific forms of abuse.

Elder Abuse Signs to Look For

You must remain diligent. Sometimes the signs of elder abuse and neglect aren’t always obvious. However, these red flags should help you see what’s going on behind closed doors.

Rapid Weightloss

Is your relative looking gaunt and unhealthy? They may be malnourished and need healthcare services right away. Restricting and refusing food is one way that staff members will abuse elders. Sure, it’s not physical violence, but starvation is just as dangerous and painful.

Sudden Injuries

A scrape or bruise every now and then may seem normal, but make sure you do not see a consistent pattern of injuries. Broken bones may be another sign that the elder is experiencing abuse in the nursing home.

Poor Hygiene

Poor hygiene is also another sign of blatant neglect and abuse so if you notice that their hair is disheveled, or that it’s been a while since they’ve been bathed, consider abuse as a possibility.

Signs of Depression

One of the saddest things about the signs of elder abuse and neglect is that your loved one may keep it hidden from you. If you notice they are feeling sad or that they look anxious, this can be due to elder abuse.

If they no longer find joy in the things they once loved, this may also be a sign of heightened depression or anxiety due to their living conditions.

Self Neglect

Also look for indications of self-neglect when looking for signs of elder abuse and neglect. Perhaps the staff isn’t the cause of your loved one’s mental and physical deterioration. They may be purposefully neglecting their own basic needs — such as refusing to take usual medical treatments or eat adequate portion sizes.

However, you simply cannot blame the elderly person if they refuse to take care of themselves. If they are being monitored properly by their family or nursing staff, then you wouldn’t have to worry about self-neglect or self-injury.


Aside from scrapes and bruises, also look for burn marks on their skin. These cannot be caused by trips and falls, and are therefore, a large red flag to watch out for if you suspect signs of elder abuse and neglect at play. These burn marks can be caused by cigarettes, curling irons, and lighters. Take them to the hospital to treat these marks, and ask the nurses working there is they have any resources on elder abuse in a nursing home.

Restricted Visiting Hours

If you usually go visit your loved one on a certain day and are then restricted access, this can be a sign of abuse. Perhaps the abuser does not want you to see the current state of your loved one. Know your rights, and consider neglect to be a possible explanation.

Your loved one may also seem withdrawn whenever you get the chance to see them. If they do not want to talk, look further into the matter.


If you catch you loved on in a lie about how they were injured — the story is improbable or inconsistent — they may be trying to cover up the abuse.

Elders will lie about their conditions, as this is a defense mechanism most victims of abuse will turn to. They feel as if the abuse is their fault. They may also feel scared to speak up or worry that no one will believe them, so they’d rather not admit to the cruelty going on under your nose.

Bruises on the Upper Thigh

Your senior may also be experiencing sexual abuse, so check their inner thighs and genitals for scars and bruises if you’re worried about these signs of elder abuse and neglect affecting your loved one while they’re staying in a nursing home or assisted senior facility.

A Dirty Living Space

If their living space is unkept, this may point to more signs of elder abuse and neglect. Check to see whether or not the trash has been taken out within the last week or so.

If the room smells, or there’s garbage everywhere, the staff may not be taking care of their patients.

Their Health is Deteriorating

If your loved one is complaining more about their health issues, perhaps their medicine is being taken away from them. Pay close attention to not just their weight, but their overall health. How are they breathing and speaking? What does the condition of their skin look like? Do they have less energy than usual?

If so, take them to an urgent care center to get checked out.

They are Currently Having Issues With Money

The last form of elder abuse, which is too common, is financial abuse. This form of abuse is whenever someone manipulates your loved on into giving them money. In turn, your relative may always ask you to lend them money, or may never have enough to cover their own expenses.

Relatives are also guilty of this. For instance, if an elderly relative asks their nephew to withdraw some money from their bank account, but the nephew takes more than what is asked for and pockets the difference, this is abuse.

Talking With Your Elderly Relative About the Abuse

When discussing what is going on with your loved one, it’s important to not make them feel cornered. They may only tell you what you want to hear and not the reality of what is happening to them. As previously stated, they may have been forced into silence.

Never make them feel as if their situation is their fault. They may retreat even further, and you’ll never get answers. They may also worry about their abuser retaliating if they speak out against them. Affirm that they are safe and can speak freely. It’s also important to note not to speak in a contradicting or patronizing tone.

If you feel nervous about how to approach the issue, contact a team of lawyers to learn more about your senior’s rights.

What to Do if a Loved One is a Victim

Contact the authorities and an attorney immediately, and take the victim away from this horrible situation. They may need to talk to a therapist, or just be around family for a while — it can vary on a person-to-person basis.

However, do call the police so they may open an investigation on the person of interest. The odds are that your relative isn’t the only person being abused by the perpetrator.

Going to Court for Elder Abuse

Should you choose to sue for damages when your senior has shown signs of elder abuse and neglect, here’s what you need to know about going to court for your elder abuse case. You’ll have to classify which kind of abuse you fear your loved one may be experiencing. You’ll then have to be prepared for all the counter-arguments. If your senior has been a victim of financial abuse, the abuser may state that the elder knew about the money. They may also justify their behavior by saying it was just a loan.

The same goes for physical or sexual abuse. The abuser may justify their behavior by claiming that the elderly person was acting ‘dangerous.’ Learn how to refute these invalid claims. As previously stated, an attorney can help you solidify your case.

You will also need to collect the proper evidence to win your case, so spend a few weeks writing down proof when it presents itself.

Preventing Elder Abuse

One way you can prevent these signs of elder abuse and neglect is to take in your loved one into your home. While this will require work and sacrifice, it may give you the peace of mind you need.

Taking Care of Your Senior

If you have decided to take your relative or loved one in, in an attempt to shield them from the abuse, make sure to modify your home, so they feel safe and comfortable. For starter’s, consider converting your tub into a walk-in tub so they can get in and out of the shower with ease.

Also, if they have arthritis, make sure you wake up earlier to prepare their medicine for them before you leave for work.

There’s so much more than goes into caring for the senior in your life, however, making sure they have a safe and clean place to live is a great start.

Looking for the Best Place to Live

However, many people can’t look after the senior in their lives. They may travel for work, or not have adequate space or resources to give the care the elderly person deserves. If moving your loved one to a different senior living center is the best course of action, ensure you’re selecting a suitable place — one that will care for this special person in your life and make their last few years memorable and cherished.

This location should also be near a convenient medical care center in case they encounter any health problems while you’re out of town.


Find a long term care facility that will treat your loved one with the respect they deserve.

These places are not all created equally, as the staff and amenities can vary, but no matter what your current situation is, always be in your loved one’s corner. Elder abuse can happen to anyone. These signs of elder abuse and neglect are heartbreaking, but it happens to hundreds of senior citizens every day. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim, look for these red flags. If your prediction is proven true, contact the authorities right away and give the victim sanctuary.

Being educated on the topic is the only way you can prevent it so that your loved one can live a relaxed and fruitful like even in their old age.

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