Warning Signs of Abuse in Later Life

 

The gravity of abuse against individuals in later life is devastating and results in great personal losses, including the loss of independence, life savings, homes, dignity, health, and security. Studies show that up to 10% of the elderly population in America have been abused. In approximately 90% of these cases, perpetrators of abuse in later life are family members. We all need to do our part in stopping this abuse. The first step is spreading awareness and knowing what the warning signs listed below are.

WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE IN LATER LIFE:

Physical

  • bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks
  • bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures
  • open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
  • sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries/bleeding
  • broken eyeglasses/frames, physical signs of being subjected to punishment, and signs of being restrained
  • laboratory findings of medication overdose or under utilization of prescribed drugs
  • an elder’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated
  • an elder’s sudden change in behavior
  • the caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone

Sexual

  • bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
  • unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • an elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped

Emotional/Psychological

  • being emotionally upset or agitated
  • being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or non responsive
  • unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia (e.g., sucking, biting, rocking)
  • an elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated

Neglect

  • dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
  • unattended or untreated health problems
  • hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water)
  • unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
  • an elder’s report of being mistreated

Abandonment

  • the desertion of an elder at a hospital, a nursing facility, or other similar institution
  • the desertion of an elder at a shopping center or other public location
  • an elder’s own report of being abandoned

Financial or material exploration

  • sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder
  • the inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card
  • unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds using the elder’s ATM card
  • abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources
  • discovery of an elder’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions
  • sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder’s affairs and possessions
  • unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
  • the provision of services that are not necessary
  • an elder’s report of financial exploitation

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT ELDER ABUSE?  

Report  suspected  mistreatment  to  your  local  adult  protective  services  agency  or  law  enforcement.  Although  a  situation  may  have  already  been  investigated,  if  you  believe  circumstances  are  getting  worse,  continue  to  speak  out.  To report suspected elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Florida:

  • (800) 962-2873 (For suspected elder mistreatment in the home).
  • (800) 453-5145 (For suspected elder mistreatment in the home, TDD/TTY access).
  • (888) 831-0404 (For suspected elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities).
  • For other states’ reporting numbers, visit the National Coalition on Elder Abuse website or call the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677‐1116.

Keep  in  contact  –  Talk  with  your  older  friends,  neighbors,  and  relatives. Maintaining  communication  will  help  decrease  isolation,  a  risk  factor  for  mistreatment.  It  will  also  give  them  a  chance  to  talk  about  any  problems  they  may  be  experiencing.

Be aware of the possibility of abuse –  Educate yourself on the warning signs of abuse in later life. Look  around  and  take  note  of  what  may  be  happening  with  your  older  neighbors  and  acquaintances.  Do  they  seem  lately  to  be  withdrawn,  nervous,  fearful,  sad,  or  anxious,  especially  around  certain  people,  when  they  have  not  seemed  so  in  the  past?

 

Click here for more information on abuse in later life.

*Information and statistics from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org , and the National Center on Elder Abuse, www.ncea.aoa.gov.

 

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE

Founded in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic child care, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

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