Deciding to place an elderly family member in a nursing home can be a very difficult decision, and it gets even more difficult when you’re not sure if they’re truly being taken care of. Elders may seem fine when you visit with them, but they may be hiding details of abuse for fear or embarrassment—or because they simply don’t understand what’s happening to them. According to the National Council on Aging, one out of ten elders 60 years and up have experienced some type of abuse.
If you suspect that your elderly family member may have been abused, and want to prevent future abuse, you’re not alone. Here are five signs to look for if you suspect your loved one has experienced abuse.
- Changes in personality. You know your loved ones better than anyone else, so it’s important that you look out for any personality shifts. Elders who have experienced abuse often seem depressed, withdrawn, disinterested in hobbies, nervous or fearful, or display other types of unusual behavior. Pay close attention to how your elderly relative acts, and do your best to be aware of any changes in personality.
- Visible injuries. If elders have experienced physical or sexual abuse, they may have bruises, scratches, or other injuries on their bodies. These injuries can sometimes be in places covered up by clothing, making them hard to notice. Additionally, pay attention to the caregivers’ language. If you ask about an injury and they say “she ran into a wall” or “he tripped”, don’t ignore it. These odd or vague explanations may be signs that abuse is happening.
- Poor hygiene or weight loss. A common type of abuse elders experience is neglect. This can be caused by physical neglect—either intentional or unintentional, if the residence is understaffed and overpopulated. Pay attention to your loved one’s physical state: Are their clothes dirty? Do they have all the medical aids they need, like canes or hearing aids? If elders have unusually messy homes or bedsores, they may be experiencing neglect.
- Tense relationships with caregivers. Elders spend much of their time with caregivers, and those relationships should never be toxic. Pay attention to how they interact with each other. Your loved one should never behave fearfully or nervously when interacting with their caregiver, and the caregiver should never yell or scream at your loved one. If you notice a tense caregiver/elder relationship, that may be a sign of emotional or physical abuse.
- Change in financial situation. Many elders are not able to understand or manage their finances, which can tempt abusers. If you notice any changes in you loved one’s finances, such as unpaid bills or disappearing funds, pay attention. Unfortunately, financial elder abuse is very common, and it may be happening to your loved one.
If you suspect that you or someone you love is the victim of elder abuse or neglect, immediately contact an experienced Colorado elder abuse lawyer to get the justice you and your loved one deserve.