Finding out an elderly loved one is being abused can be a heartbreaking and traumatic experience. Elder abuse happens in all forms, including physical, psychological, sexual, and financial, and it can come from anyone, ranging from other family members to hired caregivers. One of the best ways to prevent abuse is to know the signs.
Here are seven common signs you should always be on the lookout for.
1. Unexplained Bruises, Cuts, Burns, or Broken Bones
It’s not uncommon to experience a bruise or cut and not know where it came from. However, if you notice this happening consistently with your loved one, it may be more than the occasional bumping into something. If you discover any type of unexplained bruise, cut, burn, or broken bone, ask your loved one what happened. If he or she can’t explain these injuries, or becomes angry, it may be the result of physical abuse.
Unexplained physical injuries may be a sign to hire a new caregiver. New Hampshire in-home senior care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
2. Lack of Interest
Sometimes the elder abuse signs are more mental than physical. Your loved one may seem withdrawn when family and friends are around. He or she may no longer want to participate in favorite activities or may lack the desire to leave home. If you notice these signs, talk to your loved one, and if you suspect a specific abuser, see how your loved one reacts when you mention the person’s name.
3. Prescription Misuse
One form of elder abuse that often goes unnoticed is prescription abuse. The abuser may be jeopardizing your loved one’s health by stealing medication or forcing him or her to take more medication than required. Regularly check your loved one’s medications and investigate these actions if you suspect this type of abuse.
4. Weight Loss and Dehydration
Sometimes abuse comes in the form of starving an elderly person who is unable to get his or her own food. Signs of this type of abuse may be weight loss, dehydration, or malnutrition. If your loved one is unusually hungry or thirsty anytime you are around, this may be another sign. Talk to your loved one about what he or she had to eat each day. Take inventory in the kitchen to make sure food is not spoiling or sitting uneaten for long periods.
5. Living in Filth
Sometimes elder abuse comes in the form of neglect. You may notice dirty clothes or bedding, piles of dishes, rotten food around the house, or untreated bedsores. This is especially common when seniors are disabled and unable to do daily tasks on their own. In this case, point out the unacceptable conditions to the potential abuser and ask why he or she isn’t keeping up with them better.
If your loved one enjoys socializing but suddenly stops taking calls or allowing family members to visit, it’s important to investigate the issue. While it could be a case of depression or mental anguish, it may be because the abuser is forcing your loved one to avoid contact with other people. If you suspect this, try to talk to your loved one in private, and find a professional caregiver to prevent further abuse.
New Hampshire respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.
7. Unpaid Bills or Lack of Money to Buy Necessities
Financial abuse is far too common with seniors because abusers see them as easy targets. They may be stealing from your loved one, or they may have come up with a scam to get the money. Keep an eye on your loved one’s finances. If you notice utilities being turned off due to non-payment, or he or she doesn’t have the money to buy food or medications, it’s time to look at bank statements.
To prevent elder abuse, choose a professional caregiver from a reliable home care provider. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but New Hampshire live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust in professional live-in caregivers to enhance his or her quality of life. Contact Home Care Assistance at (603) 471-3004 to learn more about our services and set up a free consultation.