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Elder Care Abuse

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

Eldercare is inherently stressful, and not all people involved in elder care are able to maintain a patient and compassionate attitude towards their work at all times while providing care. Families should be alerted to the possibility that elder abuse can occur, and should remain watchful for actual signs of elder abuse.

no elder abuse signIt is surprisingly easy to overlook signs that elder abuse is occurring. For one thing, elders may not report that they are being abused. Elders may feel too ashamed, defeated, or intimidated to report abuse to family members. Elders may also be too out of it to know that they are being abused. When signs are present, they may be subtle; showing up more as depression or other personality and outlook change rather than as clear signs of abuse. Such subtle signs may be mistaken for adjustment reactions to care and not be followed up upon sufficiently to reveal the abuse.

Signs to watch for that may indicate elder abuse include:

  • personality changes (angry, depressed, moody, defensive, etc.)
  • confusion
  • excessive tiredness
  • changes in personal appearance of the home and living environment

Family members who notice any of these signs should talk to their elders, and as well, to a social worker or care plan provider, or to a court or law enforcement officer who can put a stop to the abuse. Family members may also seek assistance in pursuing a claim of elder abuse from the state and federal government departments that license and regulate their care provider or facility.