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6 Ways to Identify Elder Abuse

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

Seniors are often dependent on others for their basic needs, which makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Aging adults who are abused are often too afraid or embarrassed to speak up. You can help protect your loved one by being aware of the most common types of abuse.

1. Physical Abuse

The most common signs of physical abuse include burns, abrasions, broken bones, and bruises that are unexplained or do not fit the explanation given. You should investigate further if your loved one has frequent injuries or if the caregiver refuses to let you visit your loved one alone.

Make sure your loved one has a trusted and compassionate caregiver to assist him or her with daily care needs. When considering non-medical home care, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.

2. Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can range from constant insults and criticism to verbal threats of physical harm and isolation. Change in behavior when the caregiver is present is a common sign of elder abuse. You may notice your loved one is withdrawn from friends and family or engages in unusual behaviors such as rocking, biting, or thumb sucking. If you observe a caregiver yelling at your loved one, arrange for time alone with your loved one to gently question him or her about the situation.

3. Sexual Abuse

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse because they are physically easy to overpower and often depend on others for personal needs. Bruises around the breasts and genitals, unexplained rectal or vaginal bleeding, and withdrawn behavior may indicate sexual abuse. You should be suspicious if you notice overly flirty behaviors on the part of the caregiver or if your loved one suddenly refuses to allow a caregiver to help with bathing, toileting, and other personal needs.

4. Abandonment

Abandonment can include leaving the senior alone in a public place or even at home when it is unsafe or inappropriate. Warning signs may include phone calls from your loved one or authorities requesting your assistance because of the caregiver’s absence. Any report by a senior that he or she has been left alone by a caregiver should be taken seriously.

If you notice these signs, hire a new caregiver for your aging loved one. For families living in Milwaukee, WI, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

5. Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation can occur when a caregiver, friend, or family member misuses a senior’s money. Common signs include unpaid bills, unusual spending, and missing property or money. You can protect your loved one by encouraging him or her to appoint a trusted individual as a financial power of attorney who can help oversee and monitor his or her financial affairs.

6. Neglect

In many cases, neglect can occur when the caregiver becomes overwhelmed. Signs of neglect may include a lack of personal hygiene, a dirty home, and unexplained weight loss. Family caregivers may require support and time away from their duties so they do not become overwhelmed. Choose a professional caregiver who has the necessary training to handle your loved one’s needs.

One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching in-home care agencies. Milwaukee families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. To hire a compassionate caregiver for your aging loved one, call one of our professional Care Managers at (414) 964-8000.