Elder Abuse – Recognizing the Warning Signs

admin Elder Abuse

We began our Elder Abuse Awareness Series with Elder Abuse – Stopping It Begins With Awareness and defined the different types of abuse.  This post will provide information on recognizing the warning signs.

Recognizing Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

According to the California Department of Justice, elder abuse victims often suffer in silence, unwilling to seek assistance because they believe their cries for help will go unanswered and they fear retaliation from their abusers.  Many remain silent to protect abusive family members from legal consequences of their crimes, or are too embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim to predators.  Others fear that no one will believe them, chalking up their allegations to the effects of old age.

This means that it may take the courage of a caring family member, friend, or caregiver to take action when the victim may be reluctant.

Below, we have compiled a list of the most common warning signs.  The existence of any one or more of the following does not necessarily mean that abuse has occurred, but in order to combat this issue, we must learn to recognize the telltale indicators that a situation may need to be investigated.

Warning Signs:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs 
  • Withdrawn or hesitant to talk freely
  • Injuries that are incompatible with explanations
  • Scratches, blisters, lacerations, or pinch marks
  • Patches of hair missing or bleeding scalp
  • Malnourished or dehydrated


If you suspect abuse, please report it.  Don’t look the other way and let another victim suffer in silent desperation.

For more information on warning signs of elder abuse please visit the following resources:

National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA) http://www.ncea.aoa.gov

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