For too many seniors in our country, abuse or neglect is an all-too-real part of life. Knowing the signs of elder abuse, as well as where to get help, can change that. It is important to know the definition of elder abuse. Elder abuse can be:
Physical: such as hitting or restraining a person
Sexual: including any non-consensual contact
Emotional: such as humiliating, intimidating, threatening or repeatedly ignoring a person
Neglect or abandonment: including preventing a person from receiving basic needs
Exploitation: theft of a person’s money, property or assets
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Unexplained injuries, such as scratches, bruises or welts
Withdrawal from usual activities and relationships
Sudden changes in habits such as spending, hygiene or appearance
Changes in mood (or mood swings) such as depression, confusion, insomnia, anger or crying
Any mention of mistreatment
Keep in mind that these signs may not be caused by elder abuse, but do follow up to root out the causes.
If you suspect abuse, always dial 911 for immediate help. If someone isn’t in immediate danger but you suspect abuse, talk to the dispatcher about the situation and what you can do.
Remember, some seniors may feel ashamed or afraid to report abuse. You might have to step in to seek help.
Where to find more help:
National Domestic Violence Hotline. This hotline is available 24/7 to offer resources and support. Call 1-800-799-7233.