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4 signs of elder abuse and neglect

Everyone deserves safety, respect and a comfortable living environment. You want nothing less for your aging family members. Healthcare professionals and caregivers typically have a drive to provide those necessities and more. However, sometimes there are people out there who pose a risk to the elderly. While this is disheartening, families should be observant.

It’s important to be aware of the potential warning signs of elder abuse and neglect, such as:

  1. You notice your loved one was overcharged or double-billed. It’s upsetting to even imagine that a doctor, nurse or professional care provider would possibly take advantage of those who are vulnerable. Unfortunately, healthcare fraud and abuse is a very real threat. Abuse can happen when a doctor or nurse over-medicates, under-medicates or recommends fraudulent remedies to a patient. Sometimes unethical professionals will charge for health services they never provided.
  2. Cash or personal items go missing. Financial exploitation can happen within a nursing home, or at an elderly person’s home. It’s abusive and illegal for caregivers to misuse an elder person’s credit cards, checks and other accounts. Oftentimes these small acts of dishonesty can turn into downright identify theft, like when a caregiver forges an elder’s signature. If you notice unusual activity with their finances, address the issue promptly.
  3. Their behavior changes drastically. It’s normal to change as we age, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. However, you know your loved one’s personality. Have they become more withdrawn? Do they no longer make eye contact? These might be signs of emotional abuse. If a care provider is isolating, terrorizing, ignoring or intimidating an elderly person, the psychological distress will show.
  4. Unexplained bruises show up. You may not notice an emotional shift,but physical changes become obvious. You might see that your loved one bruises more often, or shows random skin tears. Did this usually happen before they were under a certain care? Ask questions and investigate.

Abuse and neglect takes many forms. Some signs are more obvious than others. Take a moment to assess the situation and don’t push aside warning signs. The elderly oftentimes has little say in what happens, or maybe they are afraid or unable to communicate for themselves. Trust your gut feeling when you notice anything unusual. Is there a cause for concern?

If you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected by healthcare providers, professionals or nursing home staff, act quickly and explore your legal options.

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