8 Ways to Recognize Signs of Elder Abuse

The golden years are supposed to be one of the best times in life; an opportunity to do things put off because of limited time and resources, or having to work and raise a family. Unfortunately, many people have health issues in their senior years, and require a caretaker to assist them with personal care or some other aspect of daily maintenance.

The elderly population fall victim to abuse and maltreatment every day; they’re especially vulnerable because of their frailty and mental ailments. There are over half a million reports filed every year, and millions of others that never get reported. In a fast paced and busy society, seniors oftentimes become more isolated socially and their support system gets stretched thin. The loss of friends and family members in addition to their inability to fully take care of themselves, puts them at risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people, and all forms of abuse. Elderly people that suffer from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia usually need care around the clock, and most family members don’t have the time or resources to care for them properly.

Caregivers sometimes get overwhelmed if they don’t have assistance or a strong support system. This leaves institutions, which are very expensive and staffed with employees that aren’t always equipped with the patience or empathy to deal with the stress and demands of caring for the residents. They may not have enough training for the rigors of caring for patients with different illnesses and symptoms. Nursing home employees that work in poor conditions for low wages, may be more likely to abuse their patients. These are some of the factors that may contribute to elder abuse in institutional settings. There are many different forms of mistreatment of the elderly, including physical abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Elder Abuse: Noticing Emotional Changes

Seniors that are experiencing abuse will exhibit noticeably different behavior which are easy to recognize, and will sometimes be able to verbally express the type of abuse or mistreatment they’re enduring. They will appear upset, agitated, or fearful. Sometimes the behavior will be very pronounced when the abuser is present. The reaction can be the exact opposite as well, with the abused person becoming withdrawn and indifferent. In some cases, the person may regress and display strange behavior such as sucking or rocking. Depression and mood swings are also very common. Some other emotional changes include anxiety, anger, resignation, non responsiveness, or becoming withdrawn. The elder may appear disoriented or confused at times, maintain a rigid posture, make contradictory statements, or refuse to speak in front of certain people. Psychosomatic complaints are another common sign of some form of abuse; men usually complain about stomachaches, and women on the other hand, headaches. Sleep patterns may change, with some abused seniors having nightmares or trouble sleeping. There may be a change in eating habits, and the elder may seem worried or anxious all the time, or they may avoid contact altogether. Episodes of shaking, trembling, or crying can be signs of abuse. You should be on the lookout for any major change in behavior.