Elder abuse can have detrimental effects on a person’s overall health and well-being. Ongoing mistreatment may result in life-threatening outcomes.
When families understand what elder abuse looks like and how to prevent it, they may reduce their loved one’s risks of suffering. Consistent and informative education may help families identify warning signs of mistreatment before it is too late.
Types of abuse
Many people think of physical abuse when they hear stories of elder abuse. However, abusive behavior can take on many forms. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, mistreatment of elders may include any the following:
- Sexual assault
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Identity theft
Signs of abuse
Equally as important as knowing the types of abuse is for families to recognize the warning signs of mistreatment. Upon recognition of concerning behaviors, families should intervene promptly to prevent mistreatment from happening again. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute on Aging, families should watch for changes including the following:
- Weight loss
- Unexplained injuries
- Personality swings
- Disheveled appearance
- Unpaid bills
Families should use care when selecting people to provide medical and personal services to their aging loved ones. Caretakers should have proper certifications and exhibit qualities including compassion, empathy, patience and respect. Families can also establish regular visitation patterns to monitor their loved one’s appearance and demeanor. Showing up unannounced is another strategy for families to assess the living conditions of their loved ones. With an awareness of abusive behaviors and warning signs, families can protect their aging loved ones from mistreatment.