Watch for signs of elder abuse

Northland Community Services Coalition held an elder abuse awareness event June 5. During the event, area professionals learned about warning signs of elder abuse. If someone suspects a loved one is being abused, Clay County Senior Services and the National Center for Elder Abuse suggest calling 911.

As Saturday, June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, professionals at Clay County Senior Services and the National Center for Elder Abuse want to provide family members, friends and loved ones of seniors with warning signs to watch for in case of situations of abuse or neglect.

Neglect

Signs of neglect include:

• Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing.

• Lack of medical aids such as glasses, walker, teeth, hearing aid and/or medications.

• A person with dementia left unsupervised.

• A person confined to bed is left without care.

• A home cluttered, filthy, in disrepair, or having fire and safety hazards.

• A home without adequate facilities such as a stove, refrigerator or working cooling and heating system, plumbing or electricity.

• A person with untreated bed sores.

Financial abuse or exploitation

When an elder is suffering financial abuse or is being exploited, signs may include the person giving uncharacteristically excessive reimbursements or gifts to those providing care or companionship. A sign a caregiver is exploiting an older adult could be when the caregiver is in control of the senior's finances but the senior's needs are not being met.

Emotional abuse

Signs of emotional and psychological abuse are:

• Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior such as withdrawal

from normal activities or unexplained changes in alertness.

• Caregiver isolates elder. The caregiver may not let anyone in the home or speak to the elder.

• Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, overly concerned about spending money or uncaring.

Physical or sexual abuse

Physical or sexual abuse of an elder may be occurring if the elder has inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, sexually transmitted infections or burns.

Clay County Senior Services and NCEA suggests if someone believes their elder loved one is living in a dangerous or life-threatening situation to call 911.

"Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. The agency receiving the report will ask what you observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more," states a NCEA release. "You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring. It is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions."