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Overview of Elder Abuse
Do you have a client who you suspect is in a high-risk care situation? There are clues that may indicate abuse is occurring. You should ask gently but directly about the abuse. Oftentimes, while it may be difficult, clients and abusers are willing to respond to direct questions.
Clues That May Indicate Elder Abuse
Elder abuse comes in different forms, such as physical abuse, neglect, and financial abuse. The following clues may indicate abuse.
Physical Abuse Clues
The following clues may indicate physical abuse:
- Apparent fear
- Refusal to talk in front of caregiver
- Lack of eye contact between the dependent person and caregiver or with the care manager
- Overuse of physical restraint
- Constant use of heavy sedation
- Physical injuries that cannot be adequately explained
The following clues may indicate neglect:
- Ongoing lack of food, drink, or both
- Isolation of dependent person
- Injuries or episodes (such as getting lost) due to a lack of supervision
- Inadequate personal care of the dependent person
- Urine burns or skin breakdown
- Frequent urinary tract infections or fecal impactions
- Non-compliance with dependent person’s medications or medical care
- Excessive delay in seeking needed medical care
- Episodes of dehydration
Financial Abuse Clues
The following clues might indicate financial abuse:
- A discrepancy between a dependent person’s financial assets and their standard of living
- Dependent person repeatedly saying they cannot afford something
Reporting Elder Abuse
Many cases of elder abuse have gone unreported because no one has ever asked about the abuse directly. Tailor your questions to the client and caregiver based on the circumstances you witness. Then, follow up with questions about when and who, if appropriate and possible. If and when you are ready and you have the information that you need, you can report this abuse to the proper authorities.
If you are looking for more information on topics that affect seniors, please check out our Health Library.