Types of Elder Abuse and The Signs to Watch Out For

As we age, most of us will reach a point in which we must rely on others. This reliance may result from our inability to properly care for ourselves, our homes, our finances, and other aspects of our lives. If you are reading this, it is likely that you have yet to reach this point in your life but someone that you know has.

Signs Of Elder Abuse

You are either erring on the side of caution by learning the signs of elder abuse or have a suspicion that your loved one may be experiencing some type of abuse.

Regardless, it is imperative that you continue reading to learn as much as possible about elder abuse and to learn to recognize the signs that something just isn’t right.

The Types of Abuse

Generally speaking, there are at least five types of elder abuse that may occur. These include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial abuse. “Abuse” includes any type of mistreatment, being taken advantage of, any type of harm, or neglect.

No one is immune. Anyone may abuse an elderly person. This includes relatives, neighbors, caregivers, and others that come in and out of their home, as well as any person that works with your loved one on a regular basis – be it a doctor, nurse, or someone in an assisted living facility, clinic, and/or nursing home.

Many older adults that are abused will not speak of the issue; however, by becoming familiar with the types of abuse and the signs, you have the ability to maintain the safety and well-being of your loved one.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any type of action that results in any type of bodily harm or an injury. Examples include hitting, pushing, restraining against the person’s will, and/or giving medications that have not been prescribed to the senior.

The most common signs associated with physical abuse of an elderly person includes:

  • Bruises, cuts, burns, and other marks for which there is no explanation
  • Bones that are fractured or completely broken
  • Muscle strains or sprains
  • Consistently suffering from injuries
  • The senior’s unwillingness to talk about the injuries or be seen by a doctor

Psychological Abuse

When a person is psychologically abused, it means that they have endured an action that has harmed them in an emotional manner. Yelling, being called names, being ignored, and unreasonable control over the person all classify as psychological abuse.

Signs of this type of abuse include:

  • Being withdrawn
  • Being frightened
  • Behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Sleep problems
  • Nightmares
  • Losing interest in things, situations, and people

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any type of forced sexual contact, touching, or observation. Signs of sexual abuse may include:

  • The development of a sexually transmitted disease
  • Bruises or marks near genitals or breasts
  • Bloody underwear
  • Discomfort near genitals, buttocks, or breasts


Neglect involves a caregiver not meeting the needs of the elderly. This includes bathing, dressing, feeding, providing medication, ensuring the proper housing, getting medical care, and even the abandonment of the person.

Signs of neglect include:

  • Being unclean
  • Dressed in dirty clothes
  • Bedsores
  • Rashes
  • Not having the right and/or broken items such as glasses or walkers

Financial Abuse

When a senior’s money, belongings, or their property becomes threatened, this is considered to be financial abuse. For example, someone may forge their signature to get money, coerce the changing of a will, or take their credit cards and make unauthorized purchases.

Signs of financial abuse include:

  • Missing money
  • Making unusual loans to others
  • Legal documents being changed
  • Financial statements that come up missing
  • Unpaid bills
  • Not having items needed – such as electricity or food

It does not matter if your loved one lives alone, in an assisted living placement center, a nursing home, or in the hospital – if they experience any signs of potential abuse, you should report it to the local authorities immediately.

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