Elder Abuse and Elderly Parents

Elder Abuse and Elderly Parents

Abuse can occur anywhere; in the home, in the workplace, assisted living, nursing homes, and long-term care centers.

This issue may be broken down into categories that include neglect, behavioral abuse, physical abuse and relational views.

Whether you're a caregiver in a home setting environment caring for your elderly mother or a professional caregiver working in a health care facility, it's important to understand the most common signs of elder abuse in order to prevent further harm, to rectify the situation, and to provide the elderly person with the peace of mind and physical comfort that every human being expects.

Elder Abuse Police Badge

Physical Abuse Signs

The most common indicators that abuse has occurred is the presence of unexplained bruises, as well as bruising and even fingerprints found on the tender skin of the inner thigh or arm. Elderly people bruise quite easily however, so this doesn't mean that every time someone noticed a bruise on your elderly parents skin that it is sign that he or she is being abused.

Don't be afraid to ask the elderly individual or other caregivers how the bruise, scratch, or other blemish occurred.

In some cases, elderly individuals may bruise easily when bathing or performing daily chores and tasks. If you ask an elderly person where or how he or she received a particular bruise and seems hesitant or fearful to answer, the red flag should go up.

Most types of bruising that appear around the neck or throat or on the upper arms, often evident in the appearance of thumbprints and round bruising on opposite sides of the arm may indicate that an elderly person has been grabbed, grasp, and even shook. Yes, it's often difficult to guide certain elderly patients, such as those with Alzheimer's, to chairs, tables, or beds and is not elder abuse.

In some cases, caregivers don't intend to cause bruising or injury when guiding patients or loved ones, but always be diligent and cautious when grasping an elderly person's arm or hand in such a manner as to cause injury, tissue damage or bruising.

Watch for signs of elder abuse bruising around the wrists, ankles, or waist, which are often signs of use of physical restraints. No individual, regardless of mental capabilities or thought processes should be physically restrained against his or her will. Laws and regulations are under effect regarding physical restraints. Caregivers are not allowed to strap or otherwise confine any elderly individual into a wheelchair, a bed, or a chair.

Other common signs of physical abuse may be cigarette burns, unexplained cuts, scratches or skin tears, restraint markings and unexplained fractures. Black dice, cuts or bruises on the face, scalp or other parts of the head are often indications of physical abuse.

The Difference between Neglect and Elder Abuse

While the distinction may be minimal, there is a difference between neglect and elder abuse. Neglect may include such signs as dirty and untrimmed toe or fingernails, unbrushed teeth, unkempt appearance, and poor overall hygiene. An individual who is being neglected may also be found sitting or lying in feces or puddles of urine.

Less notable signs of neglect may include a slow but steady loss of weight caused by malnutrition. An elderly individual may also be neglected if water or other fluids are not readily accessible, as well as one was left sitting on a toilet for unacceptable length of time. Whether caring for a loved one at home or in a health care facility, time and effort is necessary to prevent falls and bedsores, as well as ensuring the elderly loved ones are bathed, hair is combed, and hygiene is dealt with on a daily basis.

Elder Abuse Police Person with Hand Up

Emotional and Behavioral Abuse

Abuse can occur without any physical contact between a caregiver and an elderly individual. Some of the most common signs of any type of elder abuse may be noted to changes in behavior, attitude, and emotions on the part of the elderly individual. Some of the most common signs that abuse has or is occurring include:

  • Increased visitation to speak
  • Fear
  • Agitation
  • Non-responsiveness
  • Depression or resignation
  • Restricted activities or contact with others
  • An elderly individual not given the chance to speak for him or herself


Emotional abuse may take the form of disparaging, hurtful or mean comments to an elderly person. Neglecting the emotional and physical well-being of any individual, and most especially in elderly individual are classic signs and symptoms of abuse. If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused, don't take chances.

Contact authorities immediately in order to ensure the emotional, mental and physical safety of your elderly parent.

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