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Elder Abuse: Know the Signs

Elder abuse can happen to anyone. According to the CDC, elder abuse is defined as "an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult." This can include physical or emotional abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, or abduction.

If you notice any of the following signs of elder abuse, take the necessary steps to get them help.

  • Seems depressed, confused, or withdrawn or stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys

  • Isolated from friends and family

  • Has unexplained bruises, burns, or scars

  • Loses weight for no reason

  • Has trouble sleeping

  • Appear dirty, under-fed, dehydrated, over- or undermedicated, or not receiving the needed care for medical problems

  • Has bed sores or other preventable conditions

  • Recent changes in banking or spending patterns

  • Has hazardous, unsafe, or unclean living conditions

What to do if you see signs of abuse:

  1. Try talking privately to the older adult to find out what's going on. Never do this in front of others, especially if you suspect one of them might be the abuser.

  2. If you think it is necessary, report what you see to Adult Protective Services. You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring- professionals will take it from there and investigate.

Abuse is never something to be taken lightly. Elder abuse especially can lead to early death, harm to physical and psychological health, cause serious financial loss, and more. Not to mention feelings of depression or fear. Many times, the victim may think the abuse is his or her fault. APS agencies can help by offering support groups and counseling to help heal psychological wounds.

For more information about elder abuse, what the signs are, different forms of abuse, and information about where to get help, visit the following websites:

Indiana Adult Protective Services- FSSA: Aging Home: Adult Protective Services


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