Behavioral Signs of Elder Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation

behavioral signs of elder abuse neglect or exploitation

It goes without saying that every person behaves and acts differently. There is no uniform way in society for a person to act, though generally we know what to expect from loved ones as we interact with them and understand their personality. When it comes to the elderly, unfortunately signs of elder abuse are misinterpreted as the toll of aging and/or evidence of diminishing mental capacity. Instead, families must be willing to take a deeper look at these behaviors to determine if they are in fact signs of elder abuse.

Understanding that the items discussed are not always ‘red flags’ or telltale signs of elder abuse, it is important for families to understand that behaviors can occur that are verbal and non-verbal, which evidence something is wrong in a nursing home or other care setting. Looking further into these behaviors may indicate that something is wrong with the caretaker, but may also highlight problems with medication, therapy, mental condition and more. As a result, exploring the behaviors can be beneficial even if they do not lead to the discovery of abuse that can begin to be remedied immediately.

That said, when visiting an elderly loved one, be sure to look for the following behavioral signs of elder abuse:

  • Character changes
  • Self-harm
  • Irritation, aggression or signs of rage
  • Introverted demeanor
  • Anxiety/Nervousness
  • Pulling away/social reluctance
  • Evidence of fear
  • Abandonment of relationships, friendships, etc.
  • Evidence of depression
  • Apathetic demeanor
  • Weeping, crying or other evidence of sadness
  • Fluctuation in mood
  • Complaints about treatment, including shifts in residence/housing
  • Assault, both verbal and non-verbal
  • Threatening behavior toward self, staff, family and fellow residents
  • Intimidating behavior
  • Mockery or derision of self, family, residents or others

Each of these signs of elder abuse is extremely complex, but also very important. It is nearly impossible for anyone to claim one way or another that any of the items above is an immediate cause for concern, mostly due to the fact people in everyday society demonstrate multiple items above without a negative influence in their life. However, as a loved one, it is important for you to compare and contrast behavior both between visits as well as in comparison to the person’s personality before there was a change in the care provided by, for instance, a nursing home or other care facility.

Because the cause of these behaviors can be unclear, be open and candid about your concerns with leadership and/or care providers within the nursing home. Doing so not only helps document your concern, but also may help root out a cause unrelated to elder abuse. If things do not change and you feel that things are not going to get better, or have in fact worsened, do not hesitate to get a second opinion or pursue other options. If you feel that you have seen too many signs of at least potential elder abuse to remain quiet, speak with law enforcement and our care team for help. When it comes to elder abuse, the old adage of ‘better safe than sorry’ is all too appropriate given the inability of many to defend or speak for themselves.

As always, we welcome questions and concerns you may have regarding behavioral signs of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Contact us today at (877) 469-7273 or through our contact form.

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