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Elder Abuse - Possible Indicators of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

The following descriptions are not necessarily proof of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. But they may be clues that a problem exists, and that a report needs to be made to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.

Physical Signs

  • Injury that has not been cared for properly
  • Injury that is inconsistent with explanation for its cause
  • Pain from touching
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause
  • Poor coloration
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Inappropriate administration of medication
  • Soiled clothing or bed
  • Frequent use of hospital or health care/doctor-shopping
  • Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities
  • Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items
  • Forced isolation


Behavioral Signs
  • Fear
  • Anxiety, agitation
  • Anger
  • Isolation, withdrawal Depression
  • Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence
  • Contradictory statements, implausible stories
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Confusion or disorientation


Signs by Caregiver
  • Prevents elder from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward elder
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence
  • Lack of affection toward elder
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationships
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents
  • Withholds affection
  • Talks of elder as a burden


Signs of Financial Abuse
  • Frequent expensive gifts from elder to caregiver
  • Elder's personal belongings, papers, credit cards missing
  • Numerous unpaid bills
  • A recent will when elder seems incapable of writing will
  • Caregiver's name added to bank account
  • Elder unaware of monthly income
  • Elder signs on loan
  • Frequent checks made out to "cash"
  • Unusual activity in bank account
  • Irregularities on tax return
  • Elder unaware of reason for appointment with banker or attorney
  • Caregiver's refusal to spend money on elder
  • Signatures on checks or legal documents that do not resemble elder's signature
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(301) 654-5757