Know the Signs of Elder Abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) “between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depend for care or protection.” This week’s tip is a reminder to educate your staff on the signs of elder abuse.

The signs and symptoms of abuse can vary based on the type of abuse.  Below is a brief list from the NCEA:

Physical Abuse

  • 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; and
  • the caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone.

Sexual Abuse

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

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

  • 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  • being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or non responsive;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); and
  • an elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated.

Talk with your staff about the signs of abuse, how to monitor for them, and how and when to report them.  You can also click here to learn more about the signs and symptoms of other types of abuse, including abandonment, financial exploitation, and more.

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