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Elder Abuse
Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is mistreatment of those aged 65 and older. This can be in the form of physical, emotional, or financial abuse, or just plain neglect.

Elder abuse has no boundaries. It can happen anywhere, and in any type of household, be it poor, middle class, or upper income. Family members and/or close friends are often the offenders, so it can be difficult to discover and to accept.

Elder Physical Abuse
It is probably easier to detect physical abuse, since the signs are more visible, such as:

  • Obvious lacerations, abrasions, fractures, welts, bruises, discoloration, or swelling
  • Pain or tenderness on mere touch
  • Burns caused by cigarettes, ropes, or other bonds
  • Detached retina, bleeding, or scalp wound

If the elder becomes withdrawn or protective of the suspect, physical abuse may be occurring.

Elder Emotional Abuse
Verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, or isolation can cause mental and emotional trauma. These kinds of abusive treatment are not acceptable, even by family members or friends. Seniors may be suffering from emotional abuse if they are experiencing the following:

  • Long bouts of depression
  • Unusual mood changes and anger
  • Fear of being touched or approached by others
  • Feeling withdrawn, unusually introverted, or afraid

It’s important for the victim to understand that intimidating and hurtful conduct is not their fault.

Elder Financial Abuse
The elderly may fall victim to mismanagement of their money, property, or other assets. Anyone who has access to personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit cards, checkbooks, etc. can steal assets. Here are some signs of financial abuse:

  • Noticing unusual activity in bank accounts, such as numerous withdrawals or attempts to withdraw a large sum of money
  • Being asked for a loan by a friend or caretaker who wants you to keep it secret (a request for secrecy can be a warning sign that the borrower does not intend to repay the loan)
  • Seeing bills pile up when the caretaker is responsible for their payment
  • Noticing changes in your will or power of attorney, even though you are unable or unwilling to make such changes
  • Having a lack of amenities, such as clothing and grooming items, although you have the means to pay for them

Some ways to protect against financial abuse include:

  • Cancelling all credit cards not in use
  • Never keeping the Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your ATM card in your wallet (if it has to be written down, keep it in a safe place)
  • Never giving your credit or ATM cards to a family member to purchase things for you (whenever possible, give them cash or reimburse them with a check)
  • Balancing your checkbook monthly, or having a trusted family member or friend do it for you (immediately inform your bank or credit card companies of any activity that does not appear to be your own)

Elder Neglect
If a caregiver fails to provide the elderly person with basic needs, this constitutes neglect and should be reported. Some of these basic needs are food, shelter, medical assistance, personal hygiene products, heat, or air conditioning. Adult children may neglect their elder parents. This can happen especially if the caretaker:

  • is unemployed.
  • has a criminal history, a history of violence, or alcohol or drug abuse.


Elder neglect may be occurring if the elder:

  • feels isolated by a caretaker and is unable to speak freely or spend time with others.
  • shows signs of dehydration or malnutrition.
  • has sudden weight loss.
  • does not have necessities, including eyeglasses dentures, prostheses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, or other critical items.


Self-Neglect
Sometimes elders do not have caregivers to provide for them, and the elders are unable to take care of themselves, leading to self-neglect. These seniors can receive services and assistance from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Adult Services Division.

Elder abuse is mistreatment of those aged 65 and older. This can be in the form of physical, emotional, or financial abuse, or just plain neglect.

Elder abuse has no boundaries. It can happen anywhere, and in any type of household, be it poor, middle class, or upper income. Family members and/or close friends are often the offenders, so it can be difficult to discover and to accept.

Elder Physical Abuse
It is probably easier to detect physical abuse, since the signs are more visible, such as:

  • Obvious lacerations, abrasions, fractures, welts, bruises, discoloration, or swelling
  • Pain or tenderness on mere touch
  • Burns caused by cigarettes, ropes, or other bonds
  • Detached retina, bleeding, or scalp wound

If the elder becomes withdrawn or protective of the suspect, physical abuse may be occurring.

Elder Emotional Abuse
Verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, or isolation can cause mental and emotional trauma. These kinds of abusive treatment are not acceptable, even by family members or friends. Seniors may be suffering from emotional abuse if they are experiencing the following:

  • Long bouts of depression
  • Unusual mood changes and anger
  • Fear of being touched or approached by others
  • Feeling withdrawn, unusually introverted, or afraid

It’s important for the victim to understand that intimidating and hurtful conduct is not their fault.

Elder Financial Abuse
The elderly may fall victim to mismanagement of their money, property, or other assets. Anyone who has access to personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit cards, checkbooks, etc. can steal assets. Here are some signs of financial abuse:

  • Noticing unusual activity in bank accounts, such as numerous withdrawals or attempts to withdraw a large sum of money
  • Being asked for a loan by a friend or caretaker who wants you to keep it secret (a request for secrecy can be a warning sign that the borrower does not intend to repay the loan)
  • Seeing bills pile up when the caretaker is responsible for their payment
  • Noticing changes in your will or power of attorney, even though you are unable or unwilling to make such changes
  • Having a lack of amenities, such as clothing and grooming items, although you have the means to pay for them

Some ways to protect against financial abuse include:

  • Cancelling all credit cards not in use
  • Never keeping the Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your ATM card in your wallet (if it has to be written down, keep it in a safe place)
  • Never giving your credit or ATM cards to a family member to purchase things for you (whenever possible, give them cash or reimburse them with a check)
  • Balancing your checkbook monthly, or having a trusted family member or friend do it for you (immediately inform your bank or credit card companies of any activity that does not appear to be your own)

Elder Neglect
If a caregiver fails to provide the elderly person with basic needs, this constitutes neglect and should be reported. Some of these basic needs are food, shelter, medical assistance, personal hygiene products, heat, or air conditioning. Adult children may neglect their elder parents. This can happen especially if the caretaker:

  • is unemployed.
  • has a criminal history, a history of violence, or alcohol or drug abuse.


Elder neglect may be occurring if the elder:

  • feels isolated by a caretaker and is unable to speak freely or spend time with others.
  • shows signs of dehydration or malnutrition.
  • has sudden weight loss.
  • does not have necessities, including eyeglasses dentures, prostheses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, or other critical items.


Self-Neglect
Sometimes elders do not have caregivers to provide for them, and the elders are unable to take care of themselves, leading to self-neglect. These seniors can receive services and assistance from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Adult Services Division.

for information about the Florida Abuse Hotline