Elder abuse is a crime that can cause victims severe physical pain and emotional turmoil. Elder abuse and neglect can lead to serious personal injuries, declines in physical health, changes to mental health status and wrongful death. As the loved one of an elderly person in someone else’s care, such as a nursing home or caregiver in Omaha, pay attention to potential signs of elder abuse. Even if the caregiver is someone you trust, you cannot be too vigilant about preventing abuse.
Unusual or Unexplained Physical Injuries
Physical elder abuse can refer to acts of assault such as punching or kicking senior citizens. It can also refer to the improper use of restraints. The elderly are naturally more prone to injuries, which can make it difficult to spot physical abuse. It may not be out of the ordinary, for example, to hear your loved one fell and fractured his or her hip. If a physical injury comes with other signs of abuse, however, such as poor sanitation or behavioral changes, it could be a red flag.
- Strap marks
- Bite marks
- Slap marks
- Serious bruises
- Injuries to the torso or other covered areas
- Broken bones
Physical neglect is also a significant risk for seniors. Watch for signs of neglect when you visit your loved one, such as wounds that have not been cared for, unkempt appearance, dirty clothes, unchanged adult diapers, infections, dangerous premises or bedsores. Neglecting elder care can lead to a decrease in health and emotional wellness. Ask the nursing home about recent injuries. If the injuries do not appear to match the explanation or your loved one takes frequent trips to the hospital, it could be elder abuse. Get your loved one to a safe location and call the police.
Not all forms of elder abuse are physical. Someone could also abuse an elderly individual mentally, emotionally or psychologically. Someone in a position of power could berate, yell at, humiliate, threaten, intimidate or isolate a senior citizen to intentionally cause harm or emotional distress. A perpetrator can use psychological abuse alone or in conjunction with other forms of abuse. The signs of mental elder abuse may not be as easy to identify as physical abuse.
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Feelings of guilt, shame or fear
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety, especially around certain caregivers
- Withdrawal from favorite activities
- Social isolation
- Confusion or cognitive difficulties
- Anger or emotional outbursts
- Nightmares, PTSD or trouble sleeping
- Expressing the desire to leave the nursing home
Talk to your loved one regularly to get to know his or her typical moods, behaviors and actions. If you spot any changes without reason, investigate further for potential elder abuse. Someone could be taking advantage of your loved one or harassing him or her for personal gain. Detecting emotional abuse early could help your loved one avoid long-lasting psychological repercussions. If your loved one tries to talk to you about abuse, listen and explain that you believe him or her.
Another form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. Elder financial exploitation or abuse is the stealing of an elderly person’s money or assets, either through direct theft, manipulation, coercion, fraud or force. Financial abuse robs victims of millions of dollars each year. Someone trustworthy should be in charge of or at least supervise an elderly family member’s bank accounts, trusts and savings to help prevent abuse.
Keep an eye on your family member’s accounts and watch for unusual withdrawals, checks or bank activity. Warn your loved one not to believe the internet or phone scams and not to write blank checks to anyone. It is often up to family members to detect signs of elder abuse since victims rarely come forward on their own. If you notice signs of financial exploitation or another form of elder abuse, call your local adult protective services to report a possible crime. Then, speak to an Omaha elder abuse attorney about filing an elder abuse claim.