How to Spot Elder Abuse

By Roz Jones

Elder abuse is described by the following acts among family and members of the household, any nursing home staff or any individual. 

– When somebody attempts or causes physical injury to an elder

– When the family member or staff of a nursing home try to or is trying to place an elder in terror or alarm of physical harm by torment, threat or harassment

– When one is convincing or persuading an elder by strength or intimidation to participate in a certain act from which the elder has the right to withhold

– When one meaningfully confines the movements of an elder without his consent

– Threatening the elder to a crime of violence

1. Detecting Abuse: 

– Burn markings from cigarette

– Black eye, lacerations, bruises or cuts that can not be explained

– Rope marks, a sign that the elder had been tied or slashed upon

– Hair loss, a sign that the elder’s hair was pulled

– Bodily sores and wounds

– Fingernails that are broken

– The elder’s skin is very poor condition

– Fractures of the bone

– Bite marks

– Eye glasses are broken

– Laboratory results are positive of drug overdose

– The elder displays a sudden change of behavior

– The care giver refuses to allow visitors to see the elder

2. Signs Of Neglect: 

– Sores are untreated

– Displays significant signs of malnutrition

– May show signs of insanity

– Lack of personal hygiene care

3. Signs Of Emotional Abuse: 

– May display a nervous behavior

– Constantly be disturbed or upset

– Displays a negative attitude

– Always in anxiety

– Demonstrate signs of insecurity, such as constant sucking or biting of the fingers

4. Financial Abuse: 

– Unknown withdrawal from the elder’s account

– Unusual ATM withdrawals and switching of accounts

– The elder tend to withdraw money often

– The elder does not receive his pension or Social Security check from the mail

– The elder, without any valid reason, revises his will and changes his beneficiary

– The elder unexplainably signs contracts that results to unwanted financial commitment

– Signature was forged

– The elder has plenty of unpaid bill, despite his assets that can very well cover the bill

– Strange credit card charges

5. Signs Of Sexual Abuse

– Mysterious and unexplained genital infection

– Anal or vaginal bleeding that can not be explained

– Ripped underwear

– The elder may tell someone that she has been sexually abused

– Genitals are bruised

– The elder may report that her care giver is showing her pornographic materials

– The report of the elder that she is forced to touch someone’s genitals, observe sexual acts, tell dirty stories and pose nude for a picture

6. How Can You Prevent Abuse To Yourself As An Elder?

– Keep and continue contacts with friends and neighbors

– Work out on a buddy system with other elders in the home

– Be active socially, do not be in isolation

– Protest and speak up if you are not happy or contented with the way your caregiver or other family member treats you. Tell somebody

– Request your friends and other relatives to visit you often

– Open your mail personally

– Never sign anything unless it was reviewed by someone that you trust

– Always review your will once in a while

– Coordinate so that your pension or Social Security check be deposited directly to your bank account than being sent by mail

7. How Can You Prevent Abuse To Others?

– Pay attention. Be wary and look out for signals that might point towards abuse

– Call your loved one as frequently as possible

– Visit your loved one often and make certain that she is well taken cared of

– Always be open to your loved one, taking the time to always talk to her and assure her that you are there to help and can be trusted

– Get permission to periodically look into your loved one’s bank accounts as well as credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals or transactions

8. How To Get Help If You Or Someone You Know Is Suffering Abuse:

911 or your local police emergency number or your local hospital emergency room

National Center on Elder Abuse

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 898-2586

Fax: (202) 898-2583

Area Agency on Aging

Almost all States have information as well as a referral line that can be useful and helpful in locating and finding services for elder abuse and neglect victims.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The hotline provides support counseling for victims of domestic violence and provides links to 2,500 local support services for abused women. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

1-800-799-SAFE

TDD 1-800-787-3224

Using Hospice Services for Dying at Home

Preparing for end of life means coming to terms with the fact that death is part of living. How you die may not be something you decide but sometimes where you die is in your control. Hospice services can help. 

Hospice Care is a type of health care that serves to relieve pain without treating the cause for the pain. The focus of a hospice team is to provide medical, emotional, and spiritual support to families with a terminal patient – generally in their own home. 

Some of the benefits of hospice care are:

  • Ability to die at home
  • Pain management 
  • Help with ancillary medical needs 
  • Provide education
  • Offer emotional support 

Being able to be at home during the final days of life can be a helpful and comfortable thing for entire families. Being in familiar surroundings with loved ones, pets, and personal belongings can make transitioning easier than being isolated in a sterile and noisy environment like a hospital. Most everyone prefers the idea of being home rather than away when they die.

If you or a loved one has a terminal diagnosis, you are likely a candidate for palliative care and eventually hospice. Your medical provider can help you connect with a hospice team where you will create a plan and set goals for your experience. This may include things like:

  • Comfort needs
  • Direct care needs
  • Choices during transition
  • Direct support for emotional and spiritual needs 

Hospice isn’t just about direct care when you are actively dying. It begins with a terminal diagnosis. Palliative care – while not considered hospice care – is a form of treating pain and making plans before hospice takes over providing final care. You do not have to be bed ridden to get support. Your medical team will include palliative care as part of your treatment plan.  

As things progress your hospice nurse will provide assistance to you and your family to help make things less scary and as comfortable as possible. Knowing someone is there who can help and that you can be at home at such an important time makes such big difference in your peace of mind and comfort during this process. Even after you pass, your hospice support team will help your family contact your mortuary and help ready your remains for your pre-planned funeral process.