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Many older individuals go to nursing homes and care facilities to get the assistance they need when they can no longer care for themselves. Unfortunately, this may make them a target for abuse from caregivers.

Physical, emotional, sexual, financial and neglect are all forms of elder abuse. It is unfortunate, but the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that one in 13 elderly individuals have experienced some form of elder abuse. How can you tell if someone you love is experiencing elder abuse?

Physical abuse

If your parent or loved one is being physically abused, signs include:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Frequent trips to emergency rooms
  • Hidden bruises or cuts

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can include threatening, humiliation or intimidation, which can severely harm your parent or loved one’s quality of life. Signs of emotional abuse may be:

  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Self-harm
  • Low self-esteem
  • Changes in behavior

Sexual abuse

This type of abuse happens more than some may realize, but often goes unreported. Signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Bruising or bleeding around the groin
  • STDs or infections
  • Anxiety/ depression

Financial abuse

Some perpetrators believe that elders are easy targets to gain free money. Signs of financial abuse:

  • Unauthorized credit card use
  • Sudden change in will or trust
  • Missing cash


Neglect occurs when a caretaker or staff member is neglecting an individual’s basic needs. Signs of neglect are:

  • Lack of hygiene
  • Dirty living conditions
  • Untreated injuries

What to do if you suspect elder abuse

If you think elder abuse is occurring, the best thing you can do is report it. Call the police or an elder abuse hotline. Asking your parents about the abuse may be helpful, as often cases of abuse are left unreported due to no one asking the right questions.