What Are Signs Of Elder Abuse?

What Are Signs Of Elder Abuse?

Posted on October 27, 2014 by ElderCare Resources in Blog, Education, Elder Abuse, Senior Safety

Q: How can I tell if an elderly friend or loved one is the victim of abuse?

A: Elderly adults are one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the population, and they often require significant medical care. Unfortunately, this population is vulnerable to various forms of abuse and neglect due to their compromised health; recent studies suggest about 7 to 10 percent have experienced some form of abuse in the last year.

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The signs can be dramatic or subtle. Here are some things to look for if you believe an elderly loved one might be suffering from abuse or neglect:

Weight loss. Neglect is often characterized by malnutrition and dehydration. This can include weight loss, dry mouth, increased skin turgor, and bruising due to a lack of Vitamin K.

Changes in mental state. Elderly people suffering from neglect may exhibit increased confusion, forgetfulness, anger, and frustration. These can all masquerade as a stroke or dementia.

Bruising. Multiple bruises of different colors indicate they occurred at different times. Bruises in unusual locations (face, head, abdomen, back) or with unusual patterns (made by a belt, hanger, electrical cord) are rarely accidental and need to be reported to police.

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Sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection. Sexual abuse is also seen in the geriatric population, but because some elderly are poor historians they may not recall the specifics of an assault. In these instances, health care providers trained in recognizing these injuries, such as genital trauma, may need to be consulted.

Timely recognition of abuse or neglect can save a life. If you believe it is taking place, contact law enforcement immediately.

Dr. Gregory McDonald, For The Inquirer