Monday, June 25, 2012

Signs of Elder Abuse

Identifying signs of elder abuse is sometimes trickier than it may seem. Elder abuse comes in all shapes and forms. In additional to physical abuse, withholding essential care is considered elder abuse as is not providing adequate nutritional intake to an elderly person in someone’s care. Financial abuse is also considered a form of elder abuse.

To determine whether an elderly person is being abused, you must consider not only the physical manifestations of abuse but pay attention to non verbal cues as well. A physical exam of any bruises, abrasions or cuts and their explanation can give you clues to what abuse is happening. Is the caregiver constantly at the elderly person’s side? Does the caregiver answer for the elderly person? Do the explanations match up to the kinds of marks displayed? Does the elderly person seem to be of appropriate weight? Ask them what they had for breakfast this morning or dinner last night. In some instances, a social worker could be of assistance to help provide meals on wheels, food stamps or other elder assistance. Large bedsores are also an indicator of poor or negligent care. Pressure ulcers, or bed sores, are avoidable but require vigilance by turning and repositioning someone frequently if they are unable to do it themselves. If you feel that an elderly person is being physically abused, contact your state department of children and families to file a report. An agent will then be dispatch to perform an investigation.

When assessing for elder abuse, attention to non verbal cues is important. How does he or she interact with their caregiver? Is the caregiver constantly hovering over them? Does he or she flinch at sudden movement of the caregiver? If so, make note of this. Although not a determining factor, flinching, along with deferring answers to questions regarding home life could be indicators of abuse.

Financial abuse is as important a factor as physical abuse. If a family member is continually borrowing money to finance their own lifestyle, not leaving enough money to provide necessities such as food or medications constitutes financial abuse. This is found a lot when adult grandchildren take up residence with their grandparents. In addition to the financial abuse, theft of necessary medications is also a consideration. Theft of narcotic pain medications occurs frequently and with doctors becoming stricter with prescribing and refilling narcotics, having pain medication available when needed is just as important as blood pressure medication or insulin.

Caring for the elderly can become a consuming ordeal. What starts as good intentions can deteriorate over time with what is called caregiver fatigue. Caregiver fatigue occurs when a caregiver is overwhelmed with the level of care and attention an elderly person needs. This develops more severe over time with incidents of verbal abuse, refusal to provide care and ultimately, physical abuse. Most times, just as in incidents of domestic abuse, an abuser regains control of themselves and resolves to “do better next time”, with multiple apologies thrown in for good measure. Over time, the incidents occur more frequently and ultimately result in outbursts of physical abuse. In some instances, the caregiver has no other source of income or place to live therefore it is important for them to keep the elderly person in the home instead of placing them in a skilled nursing facility.

Depending on the state you reside in will depend on who is legally obligated to report abuse. All healthcare workers, whether in or out of a facility have a legal obligation to report elderly abuse. In some states, members of the clergy have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse. People who report abuse in good faith are protected from prosecution if their report turns out to be untrue. However, failure to report carries a fine and jail time in some states. If you have a suspicion that an elderly person is being abuse, report it to your state department of children and families.


Pete Wise is a Content Marketer. If you or a loved one has been involved in elder abuse and neglect, you should also seek an elder abuse attorney to represent you. An elder abuse lawyer can help walk you through what legal options are available and which course of action should be taken. If you liked the article, check out his site for Denver SEO: PeteWiseSEO.com

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