Elder abuse, an often silent problem throughout the country, can take many forms. Abused seniors rarely report their own abuse due to a fear of retaliation or that no one else will take care of them. It is important for family members and caregivers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse in order to protect their elderly loved ones and clients. At times, abuse symptoms may mimic signs of dementia or general frailty, but don’t be too quick to dismiss them.

Physical abuse is the type that we often think of when the issue of mistreatment comes up, and it represents 25% of all abuse cases among the elderly. Some signs of physical abuse are easy to spot—bruises, cuts, broken bones, etc.—but there are often subtler signs of physical abuse that you may not recognize. Sudden changes in a senior’s behavior or refusal of the caregiver to allow visitors to see the senior can also be signs that physical abuse is taking place.

Emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver belittles, threatens or otherwise takes advantage of a senior’s emotions. If you witness a caregiver displaying this behavior toward the senior or notice that the senior is displaying signs of dementia—rocking, sucking, or mumbling to himself or herself—these could be signs that the senior is being emotionally abused.

Sexual abuse is defined as any unwanted sexual contact, and it can be difficult to diagnose. Signs to watch out for include bruises around breasts or genitals, unexplained venereal diseases, unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, torn, stained or bloody underclothing.

Family members should make a point to call and visit their elderly loved ones often. If any signs of elder abuse are witnessed or suspected, they should be reported immediately. Call Live Free Home Health Care today to learn more about how we can provide the best care for seniors and the homebound in the Central New Hampshire area and provide much needed respite to family caregivers to protect against abuse.