8 Signs of Elder Abuse

One of the most tragic elements of the COVID-19 pandemic was nursing home visitation restrictions. These restrictions kept families apart at a time when long term care had never been worse, which has led to awful and intractable resident isolation. The lack of visitors also allowed signs of elder abuse to go unnoticed.

Now, after four years, (and the reinstated pre-COVID-19 guidelines), restrictions are loosened and families are able to return to normal visiting activities. Hopefully, as we’ve eased out of the COVID era, family and friends have been able to visit their loved ones in nursing homes and care facilities. And since it is always good to understand and raise awareness of abuse, we figured we would take this time to remind everyone of the signs of elder abuse. As you continue to visit loved ones, keep an eye out for signs of abuse and speak up for those who may not be able to do so for themselves. Below is a list of 8 signs of elder abuse and neglect you should look for.

1. Poor Hygiene

Poor hygiene can be the first sign of neglect. Dirty fingernails, signs that they have not been bathed, matted hair, filthy sheets or clothes, and the start of bed sores are all signs of poor hygiene. You will want to take action to have these things remedied as soon as possible. If the conditions do not improve, if your concerns are ignored, or if they get worse, it might be time to take greater action and report the neglect. 

2. Malnutrition

Malnutrition and dehydration might be more difficult to spot. Some symptoms of malnutrition are weight loss, weakness, dizziness, and fatigue. If you suspect dehydration look for these signs:

  • Being thirsty or expressing thirst
  • Having dry, papery skin that tents when it is pressed on or pinched together
  • Having a decrease in the urine output and the frequency of urination
  • If someone is severely dehydrated they might experience:
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Inability to sweat
  • Sunken eyes and cheeks
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast rate of breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Instances of delirium

3. Inadequate Living Conditions

In a nursing home or care facility, everyone has the right to basic necessities, privacy, trained help, and activities. Inadequate living conditions might look like over-crowding; few, delayed, or no responses from staff; understaffing; dirty rooms; or long spans of time between seeing a staff member. Additionally, if residents are denied access to activities, receive meals late (or not at all), are not given options, or are confined to their room for no reasonable purpose, this may be a sign of neglect.

4. Worsened Health Conditions

Worsened health conditions can be a result of many forms of neglect. If your loved one’s mental or physical health seems to be getting worse, or if a new symptom or illness becomes apparent, evaluate your loved one’s living situation to see if there is anything the facility is doing or failing to do that would cause this change. 

5. Unexplained Injuries

A clear sign of elder abuse is when the person has injuries that indicate force was used. Large, inexplicable bruises anywhere on the body can indicate that your loved one has been the victim of physical abuse. Call the authorities immediately. 

6. Signs of Anxiety

While anxiety is natural and can also be a side effect of medications, extreme anxiety, fear, or the outright refusal to cooperate can be signs that emotional or verbal abuse has taken place. Look for tension between the resident and staff, disinterest in familiar and regular activities, and other signs of distress. 

7. Tension with Caregivers

Arguments and tension with caregivers are another indication of emotional abuse. If your loved one has stopped communicating openly or seems nervous around or particularly angry towards a member of staff, monitor the interactions to determine if something more is wrong.

8. Unexplained Financial Changes

Financial abuse may be another form of abuse that is hard to spot. However, if you are a power of attorney you will have the ability to monitor transactions, bills, etc. and notice when something seems off. If you are not power of attorney and do not have access to these types of records, keep an eye out for drastic changes in their standards of living, unnecessary items or house work, overdue bills, etc. and note if your loved one mentions meeting someone new, or talking about someone visiting them that you are not familiar with. 

If you notice signs of neglect or abuse, call the proper authorities and then contact Gharibian Law (866-239-8812) for a FREE consultation and the best legal representation.