Categories and Signs of Elder Abuse

If one of your relatives resides in a nursing home, you may be concerned about his or her vulnerability to abuse or neglect. You may be particularly concerned if your loved one lacks awareness due to dementia or another ailment, and might therefore be unable to communicate the existence of abuse or even to comprehend it.

Abuse comes in many forms. Following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of abuse to which a nursing home resident may be subjected:

  • Physical: force causing injury or pain.
  • Emotional: infliction of emotional distress.
  • Sexual: any non-consensual sexual activity imposed on a patient.
  • Neglect: failure to adequately supervise a patient or to provide for his or her needs.
  • Financial/Material: use of a patient’s money or possessions for personal gain.

Watch out for warning signs that may indicate abuse:

  • Physical marks. Injuries and bruises are, of course, cause for alarm. Even if a plausible explanation is given, they may indicate a lack of supervision. Poor hygiene or an unkempt appearance could indicate neglect.
  • Changes in behavior. Some gradual changes in behavior are expected as people age, but if a loved one suddenly becomes fearful, withdrawn or upset, that could indicate serious abuse.
  • Changes in finances. Missing money or transfers of savings to another person are suspect, as is the use or taking of a patient’s personal property by a caregiver. Also, watch out for unexplained additions of unneeded services to your loved one’s care.