Recognizing The Signs And Symptoms Of Elder Abuse

In 2009, there were more than 39.6 million individuals in the United States over the age of 65, with roughly 1.6 million elderly people living in nursing homes. By 2030, the population of those over 65 is expected to grow to more than 72 million, with more than five million living in nursing homes. Abuse and neglect by the caregivers of these individuals continues to be a concern.

Government figures reveal that one out of four nursing homes are cited for causing death or serious injury to a resident every year. The Administration on Aging (AOA) notes that each year, hundreds of thousands of our older citizens are abused, neglected or taken advantage of. They define elder abuse as any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. This may include:

  • Physical Abuse: inflicting physical pain or injury or restraining by physical or chemical means.
  • Sexual Abuse: non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect: failure to provide basic needs such as food, shelter, health care or protection.
  • Exploitation: illegally taking, misusing or concealing funds, assets or property for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse: inflicting mental pain or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts such as humiliating, intimidating or threatening words or behaviors.
  • Abandonment: desertion by a caregiver who has assumed responsibility for the care and custody of that individual.
  • Self-neglect: failure of the individual to perform essential self-care tasks that may threaten their own health and safety.

The suffering of an abused elder is often in silence. Critical to the care of these individuals is the vigilance of family members and other loved ones. If you begin to notice any changes in personality or behavior, you should be alerted to the warning signs of elder abuse.  Some of these signs are listed below:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions and burns
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activity, unusual depression and sudden changes in alertness
  • Bruising around the breast or genital area
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss
  • Strained or tense relationships between the caregiver and the elderly
If you suspect that a loved one is being abused or neglected while in the care of another, please contact Padberg, Corrigan & Applebaum for a free consultation regarding your legal remedies. For more information on the prevention of elder abuse visit the Administration on Aging’s website at