What is elderly abuse?

by Angie on

Abuse…, What’s the first thing that comes in your mind when you hear the word? An image of a kid being sexually abused or physically tortured? A husband hitting his wife violently which leaves her with some broken ribs and bruises everywhere? Yes, those are abuses and a crime against humanity, in my personal opinion.  What I would like to highlight, to you, is about a common abuse that may not have crossed your mind…the abuse on the elderly.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), defines elderly abuse as an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult (aged 60 or older).

The most common incidence of abuse happens in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This is something that, YOU, as their child, should be aware of and be very vigilant as well. Placing them in a nursing facility is NOT the end of your responsibilities, as you will later see in this article.

The National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) has categorized abuse into several categories: physical, sexual, emotional, gross neglect, financial and resident to resident abuse. You may have never imagined such a thing can happen to the elderly, but it does. I have attached a video taken from a news reel to show you how common this kind of abuse is for the elderly. Please click the video below to watch it. Caution: some scenes in this video can be disturbing.


Unimaginable, isn’t it? Personally, I have seen this happen to an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home which my father was in. In that incident, a nursing home employee slapped the elderly gentleman on the face for throwing his food on the floor. It was a shock to see it and when confronted, all that the male nurse could tell me was that he was tired and lost his temper. Understandably, that this male nurse had more than 5 senior citizens under his care and this is overwhelming for any caregiver. One can argue that, this is a job that the caregiver is paid to do and you are right. What everyone forgets is the caregiver is a human being and there’s only a certain amount of threshold that one can endure.

Having said that, it still doesn’t justify abuse on our elderly. Now, how do you recognize the signs of abuse ?

Common Signs of Abuse

Bedsores and Ulcers:

If your loved one have open bedsores and wounds which are not treated, that’s a blaring sign that your loved one is not getting the proper medical attention from caregivers and other facility professionals.

Frequent or Unexplained Falls:

Falls are very common for the elderly and you can expect this to happen to your loved one. Be very vigilant though on how often they fall and look around the facility and their room to see if any preventive measures were taken by the facility managers. You can learn more on how to prevent falls by clicking this link here.

Unexplained Injuries:

If you notice bruising, unexplained cuts or broken bones on your loved ones, please investigate it thoroughly with the nursing home manager.

Medication Errors:

If medications were not given on time or neglected by the caregivers, this can be detrimental to your loved ones that need it.

Malnutrition and Weight Loss:

Please ensure that your loved ones are fed on a regular schedule with the right amount and the right quality of food. If you notice any unexplained weight loss, please investigate this immediately.

Unsanitary Rooms and Facilities:

If you come into your loved one’s room and it smells like dirty diapers or if their room has mold and mildew that has not cleaned up, please raise the red flag ASAP. These might be something minor but for the elderly, this is a major issue as they are susceptible to infections and fall ill easily.

Financial Abuse:

Please look out on your parent’s bank account with a fine tooth comb.This is often ignored because of the trust given to the caregivers.

  • Among the signs of financial abuse to look out for:
  • Unauthorized charges on your parent’s debit or credit card.
  • Additional names on your parent’s bank card
  • Forged signatures
  • Sudden changes in legal documents such as their will
  • Withdrawal of large sums of money

Now, the question is, what happens if you do find out that your loved one has been abuse.

What can you do?

1. If possible, document the abuse. Take photos of the bruises seen.

2. Relocate your loved one into a new nursing facility. It is for their own safety.

3. If the assailant is the staff or a resident in the nursing home, report it immediately to the person in charge of the nursing home for their future action.

4. Make a police report and file a case against the assailant.

5. Hire a lawyer to handle the abuse case.

If you would like to know more about the elderly abuse and what actions you can take to protect your loved ones, please click the link below. You will find everything that you need to know and more from them.

Nursing Home Abuse


Written by: Angie

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