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What are the signs of elder abuse?

Once people reach their 60s and 70s, they usually begin to experience more illnesses as their bodies become weaker and more susceptible to a variety of diseases. When they reach the point of requiring full-time care, people often enter nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, these places often put residents at risk of abuse and neglect.

As in other states, elder abuse is becoming a growing concern in Pennsylvania. According to recent major studies, one in 10 adults is now experiencing abuse, although exact numbers are unlikely to ever be known because some incidents of nursing home neglect and elder abuse remained undetected and untreated every year.

Abuse can seriously harm an individual physically, emotionally or financially. However, you have the ability to protect against elder abuse by knowing the signs of neglect and abuse. Physical abuse can be seen by unexplained bruises, cuts, sprains, rope marks and burns as well as sexual abuse. If a caregiver does not allow a family member to visit the elder alone or if the resident does not seem to want to be alone with a staff member or shows signs of fear, then chances are that your loved one is being abused or mistreated.

Emotional abuse may be evident if the resident is agitated or exhibits other unusual behaviors. A resident can also experiencing nursing home neglect if the resident is suffering from untreated health problems. Unsafe living conditions such as no electricity, faulty wiring, poor water supply, lack of heating or cooling and improper clothing may also indicate nursing home neglect.

Knowing the signs of elder abuse may be the only way to protect a loved one from nursing home neglect and elder abuse. Such knowledge can also bring peace of mind that a loved one is truly being well cared for.

Source: Womenshealth.gov, "Elder Abuse," Accessed Aug. 25, 2014

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