What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?

What Are the Signs of Elder AbuseElder abuse is a serious and growing problem across the country. The Department of Justice estimates that up to 10% of older adults experience some form of abuse, often by a family member or other hired caregiver. The signs of elder abuse can be challenging to detect. Recognizing the signs is critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of older adults. Read on to learn more about the common signs of elder abuse. 

Physical Abuse 

Most people think about physical abuse when discussing elder abuse. This abuse is the intentional use of force that results in injury, pain, or impairment. Physical signs of elder abuse can include bruises, welts, or other unexplained injuries. Victims might also exhibit signs of restraint, such as rope marks on wrists or ankles. Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations are red flags for physical abuse. Older adults experiencing physical abuse may also seem withdrawn, anxious, or fearful around their caregivers.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse 

Emotional or psychological abuse can take many forms, including verbal threats, insults, or humiliation. The abuser might isolate the victim from friends and family. The victim can feel helpless and powerless. Signs of elder abuse can include changes in behavior, such as a sudden lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. They may also appear to be depressed, anxious, or extremely withdrawn.

Financial Abuse 

Financial abuse is when someone exploits an older adult’s assets or property for personal gain. Signs of financial abuse can include sudden changes in bank account balances or credit card activity, unexplained withdrawals, or transfers of property or assets. Older adults experiencing financial abuse may be coerced into making large purchases or giving gifts to their caregiver or family member. The victim might develop problems paying their bills or managing their finances.

Sexual Abuse 

Elder sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact or activity with an older adult. Signs of sexual abuse can include unexplained injuries, difficulty walking or sitting, or signs of trauma around the genitals. Older adults experiencing sexual abuse may also exhibit fear, anxiety, or withdrawal around their abuser. 


Neglect is not necessarily intentional as elder abuse is. It is the failure to provide necessary care or support to an older adult. Signs of neglect can include malnutrition, dehydration, poor hygiene, or untreated medical conditions. Older adults experiencing neglect may also be left alone for long periods without access to necessary medication, food, or water. Victims may also have unexplained injuries or health issues that have gone untreated.

Contact an Elder Abuse Lawyer 

Not all signs and symptoms of elder abuse are necessarily overt, either. Taking action is crucial if you suspect an older adult is the victim of elder abuse. Speak privately with the victim and express your concern and support for their well-being. Please encourage them to seek help and offer your assistance to find support. Reporting suspected elder abuse is also important. Contact the appropriate agencies or adult protective services in your area. 

Elder abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of background or socioeconomic status. By being aware of the signs of elder abuse and neglect and taking action when necessary, you can help protect a loved one from additional suffering. If you need legal assistance for elder abuse, please contact Senior Justice Law Firm to learn how we can help. Our lawyers have years of experience representing victims of elder abuse and neglect. 

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