No matter how good the arrangement you have for your elderly loved one is, it’s important to “keep your radar up” for signs they aren’t being cared for properly. Whether they are in an assisted living facility or being cared for by a primary caregiver in their home, don’t ignore anything that seems unusual. It’s up to you to identify these warning signs and when you see something — act immediately!
The National Council on Aging defines elder abuse as “physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment.” Perpetrators can include assisted living employees, family members, and spouses.
Some of the most common signs of physical abuse include:
- Bruising or welts anywhere on the body
- Eyeglasses or other products being broken
- Any type of sprain, broken bone or dislocation
- Random markings on the body
If you notice any of these warning signs on your loved one, speak with them discretely while the two of you are alone. It’s important to make sure they feel safe and that no one is listening to your conversation. Ask them plainly, “Is someone hurting you?” Reassure them that you are there to help. If the suspected caregiver is hesitant to leave you alone with your loved one, that’s a red flag for elderly abuse.
Mental and Emotional Signs
Sometimes the abuse that occurs in assisted living facilities isn’t physical. Listen to your loved one and take action if they indicate their caregiver has:
- Ignored them for long periods of time
- Used harsh language towards them
- Attempted to humiliate or ridicule them
- Raised their voice in an aggressive manner
- Isolated them from different activities
These actions can severely diminish an elderly person’s mental health, so step in right away if you witness or hear about any of these actions.
Signs of Neglect
Every assisted care facility should prioritize keeping their patients safe, but neglect can be just as harmful as intentional abuse. Signs of neglect of your loved one can include:
- Being dirty and smelly
- Not being dressed appropriately for the weather conditions
- Not having clean bed sheets
- Leaving them in a place for a long time without a trained professional watching them
Elder abuse is very real today, even if we don’t like to think about it happening. If you suspect anything, don’t hesitate to take your loved one out of a facility and look into caring for them at their home.