• Elder abuse occasionally is the subject of a shocking TV news expose on nursing homes or assisted-care facilities. However, the majority of elder abuse takes place at home, at the hands of the elder's family, friends or others who struggle with the stress of being a medical caregiver. Preventing and stopping elder abuse requires an understanding of its causes, its symptoms and how it happens.

    Consider Residential Care

    Since the majority of elder abuse takes place at home, placing an elder in a reputable and properly accredited care facility reduces the likelihood of elder abuse. This is especially important for elders with dementia or other disorders whose care requires professional treatment.

    Provide Help

    If the elder is in home care, make sure to relieve the primary caregivers frequently. It is unfair and potentially dangerous to saddle one or two friends or family members with the majority of care. The constant responsibility and stress can be overwhelming and can cause abusive behavior such as yelling, name-calling and even mild to moderate physical abuse. Respite care--having someone come in, even a few hours a week--can be a great relief to the primary caregivers.

    Know the Types and Signs of Abuse

    Learn to recognize signs of abuse. Physical-abuse signs include bruises, rope marks, unexplained injuries and refusal to be treated at the same emergency department as before. Signs of emotional abuse include withdrawal, fear and difficulty trusting others. Sexual-abuse signs include vaginal and anal bleeding, torn or bloody underwear, bruised breasts, sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal infections. Financial-abuse signs include unusual bank-account activity and living quarters that fall below the elder's means. Signs of neglect include sunken eyes, weight loss, extreme thirst and bed sores.

    Report Suspected Abuse

    If you worry that an elder is being abused in any way, call the appropriate investigating agency. These vary from state to state. The agency will determine whether abuse has taken place. Even if it hasn't, an agency that suspects potential for abuse will make referrals for counseling.

    Tell Your Doctor

    If you are an elder and you feel you are being abused, tell your doctor. You can do this in privacy, and your doctor is bound by law to report what you say to the appropriate state agency.


    American Psychological Association

    National Center on Elder Abuse


    National Center on Elder Abuse

  • Report it to the police just as you would child abuse. If it takes place in a care facility ask the police how to also report the facility. There has to be a medical dept that licenses those places.
  • That the elder get a trusting advocate where the role is made known to those in her life.

Copyright 2020, Wired Ivy, LLC

Answerbag | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy