Checklist: Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse

Todays post is part of our ongoing series, The Encompass Way. Here, we’ll go over many of the steps involved in setting up a comprehensive care plan, which helps us to provide seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps them maneuver through the challenges of the system.

elder abuse omahaWith an increasing population of elderly as a result of the Baby Boom generation, statistics show that elder abuse is more prevalent than ever. One study recognized that for every case of elder abuse reported to agencies nearly 25 go unreported.

Abuse of an elderly person can be physical, mental or financial and take on a variety of forms. If you observe any blatant signs of abuse — name-calling, threats, intimate contact, unreasonable restraints, withholding of food or medication, etc. — you should take immediate steps to stop it. Elder abuse, however, is rarely that obvious.

Many of the conditions and events listed below may be caused by occurrences unrelated to abuse, but then again maybe your relative is being abused. Use this checklist to quantify possible signs. If you notice the following occurrences or conditions, it is important to carefully monitor your relative’s care or alert the authorities.

Physical or mental abuse may be causing the following conditions:

    • Recurring or unexplained injuries


    • A combination of new and old injuries


    • Injuries without underlying diseases, or incompatible with medical history, including cuts, lacerations, puncture wounds, bruises, welts or discoloration


    • Any injury that looks like it may be have been caused by cigarettes, caustics, acids, friction from ropes or chains or contact with other objects


    • Poorly treated or untreated injuries


    • Injuries in areas usually covered by clothing


    • Poor skin condition/poor skin hygiene/lice


    • Absence of hair and/or hemorrhaging below the scalp


    • Dehydration or malnutrition that is unrelated to illness


    • Loss of weight


    • Soiled clothing or bedding


    • An environment that is excessively dirty or smells of feces or urine


    • Inadequate clothing


    • Depression or withdrawal


    • Hesitation to talk openly


    • Fearfulness of caregivers


    • Confusing or contradictory statements by an otherwise competent senior


    • Resignation or denial


    • Implausible explanations of injuries or conditions


    • Unexplained agitation


    • Denial of an injured state


Financial abuse may be causing the following conditions:

    • A sudden lack of knowledge about financial matters


    • A sudden refusal to make financial decisions or pay bills without consulting another person


    • Unusual or inappropriate banking activity


    • Signatures on your relative’s checks or other financial documents, particularly when your relative can no longer write


    • The creation of a power of attorney or will, when your relative is incapacitated


    • Numerous unpaid bills and overdue rent when someone is supposed to be handling your relative’s finances


    • Lost valuables


Caregiver behavior that should raise suspicion of abuse includes:

    • The caregiver does not allow your relative to speak for herself


    • The caregiver does not allow your relative to visit with others out of the caregiver’s presence


    • The caregiver expresses that your relative’s injuries or undesirable behavior is deliberate or self-inflicted


    • The caregiver has a history of abusing others


    • The caregiver has problems with alcohol or drugs


    • The caregiver is inappropriately affectionate or sexual


    • The caregiver restricts the activity of or isolates your relative


    • The caregiver’s explanation of an injury or incident conflicts with your relative’s account


    • The caregiver is unwilling or reluctant to comply with instructions from other care providers


    • The caregiver is inappropriately defensive when asked to explain an injury or occurrence


    • The caregiver has unjustified control of your relative’s finances


    • The caregiver refuses services that your relative needs


    • The caregiver is unusually concerned about the amount of money being expended on your relative’s care


Currently serving Omaha and surrounding areas, all Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: Jon Díez Supat via photopin cc

“Physicians Choice Private Duty solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit”