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Elder Abuse – Possible Indicators of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

The following descriptions are not necessarily proof of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. But they may be clues that a problem exists, and that a report needs to be made to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.

Physical Signs
* Injury that has not been cared for properly * Injury that is inconsistent with explanation for its cause * Pain from touching * Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts * Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause * Poor coloration * Sunken eyes or cheeks * Inappropriate administration of medication * Soiled clothing or bed * Frequent use of hospital or health care/doctor-shopping * Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities * Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items * Forced isolation

Behavioral Signs
* Fear * Anxiety, agitation * Anger * Isolation, withdrawal Depression * Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence * Contradictory statements, implausible stories * Hesitation to talk openly * Confusion or disorientation

Signs by Caregiver
* Prevents elder from speaking to or seeing visitors * Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward elder * History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence * Lack of affection toward elder * Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationships * Conflicting accounts of incidents * Withholds affection * Talks of elder as a burden

Signs of Financial Abuse
* Frequent expensive gifts from elder to caregiver * Elder’s personal belongings, papers, credit cards missing * Numerous unpaid bills * A recent will when elder seems incapable of writing will * Caregiver’s name added to bank account * Elder unaware of monthly income * Elder signs on loan * Frequent checks made out to “cash”
* Unusual activity in bank account * Irregularities on tax return * Elder unaware of reason for appointment with banker or attorney * Caregiver’s refusal to spend money on elder * Signatures on checks or legal documents that do not resemble elder’s signature