One of the keys to stopping the abuse or neglect of your elderly loved one and restoring his or her dignity is to be able to recognize the signs of abuse. Like with children, abuse in the elderly may present in physical signs, behavioral signs, or both. Of course, just as there are different types of abuse and neglect, there are different ways that your family members may show you that they are being mistreated.
- Obvious physical injuries such as broken bones or burns
- Burns or bruises that wrap around the body, possibly indicating restraints
- Multi-colored bruises, which have been sustained over prolonged periods
- Bruises on both sides of the arms, possibly indicating where the person was grabbed
- Persistent and frequent physical injuries
- Bruising around the genitalia may indicate sexual abuse
- No explanation for injuries, or explanations that don’t make sense
- Injuries being treated at different medical facilities to prevent any one doctor from seeing a pattern
- Injuries not being treated in a timely fashion
- Emotional withdrawal by the elder
While many of these warning signs pertain specifically to physical or sexual abuse, they may apply to elders who are being emotionally abused as well. In many cases, an elderly person who is being emotionally abused will become detached unusually quiet; seeking solitude as a defense against being made to feel bad about him or herself. If you see these kinds of signs in your loved one, particularly in a person who has typically been very social and gregarious, it may be time to consider seeking help.
It is also important to remember that elder abuse may take the form of financial exploitation. Keeping track of the costs of care, whether in-home or at a live-in facility, is extremely important. Financial Exploitation may take the form of improper billing by a caregiver or facility, or more direct theft of money or valuables. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for a relative to take advantage of an elder family member.
Mandatory reporting of abuse, mistreatment, or self-neglect of elders, as of May 16, 2013, is now required in Colorado, for certain professionals and caregivers. Reports are made to a law enforcement agency not more than 24 hours after making the observation or discovery. People who do report are immune for reports made in good faith.
If you begin to see signs that you think may indicate abuse or neglect, please don’t ignore them. When it comes to the health and safety of your family, you can never be too careful. In the modern world, there are dozens of wonderful resources, both online and places you can go to speak with someone. There are many people and organizations devoted to protecting our older generations during their twilight years. If you believe that your loved one may be being mistreated, contact someone who can help you investigate your suspicions. Rhett Meyer is an experienced elder abuse attorney who can speak with you about what you have seen, and what you suspect and direct you to the resources to help determine what is going on and get the help that your loved ones need. For more information and a FREE CONSULTATION contact Rhett at (303) 444-1618.