How to Spot the Signs of Elderly Abuse?

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elderly abuse

Elderly abuse is the deliberate psychological or physical neglect or harm of the elderly. Sadly, such abuse and neglect are exceedingly common. In fact, studies reveal that one out of every ten elderly people has experienced some form of abuse.

Caregivers of the elderly are responsible for making sure that seniors receive the care and necessities required for daily life. Unfortunately, elderly adults who are in the care of others don’t always get the care they either need or deserve.

When this happens, legal action must be taken to ensure that the mistreatment no longer continues. First, however, it’s vital that you know how to spot the signs of elderly abuse.

Below, we talk about the signs according to the NCEA (National Center on Elder Abuse). We also discuss how you can take action if you suspect elderly abuse.

Know the Signs

The NCEA has identified seven major types of elderly abuse. Some types of neglect might be harder to prove compared to physical abuse. By learning and knowing the signs of elderly abuse, you can take appropriate action.

Physical Abuse

According to NCEA, physical abuse constitutes physical force that may cause physical harm, pain, or injury. This includes any violent action or behavior toward a senior.

Sadly, there are many overlooked displays of physical abuse, such as forced restraint, forced feeding, starvation, and inappropriate drug administration. Some common indications that abuse is taking place include:

1. Bone fractures, sprains, or serious injuries, especially those without reports of falls
2. Bruises on the face or torso (Note that most accidental bruises among the elderly appear on their extremities)
3. Signs of restraint, such as marks from ropes or straps
4. Elderly directly reporting physical abuse
5. A sudden change in behavior

If you witness any of the above, you should seriously consider making a report of elder abuse.

Emotional Abuse

According to NCEA, emotional abuse constitutes the affliction of pain, distress, or anguish as the result of nonverbal or verbal abuse. Emotional abuse takes many forms. This may include threats, insults, or harassment, among others.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any form of unsolicited, nonconsensual sexual behavior against an elderly person. This includes everything from improper touching to rape. Sexual abuse is also things like forcing nudity or taking pictures. Elderly people with severe cognitive impairment cannot give sexual consent.


Neglect is refusing to provide medicine, sanitation, water, food, proper shelter, and other essentials to elderly people who are dependent on the care of others. If family members in charge of the elderly’s finances refuse to pay for proper care, the neglect may also be considered financial.


Unlike neglect, which is the result of another person’s actions, self-neglect is when the elderly adult engages in harmful behavior that affects their own health and safety. Such behavior can include a refusal to eat or take their prescriptions.

Other times, a senior might refuse to maintain regular hygiene. While it’s true the mentioned actions are often present in elderly adults who have cognitive decline or a mental illness, such is also found in those who are being mistreated.


We’ve discussed neglect and self-neglect. There’s also abandonment, which is an extreme form of neglect. Rather than withholding food or basic life necessities, a caregiver will give up all forms of care and leave the elderly all alone. Such cruelty is perhaps the worst kind of elderly abuse, especially if the life of the senior depends on the assistance of the caregiver.

Financial Abuse

The exploitation of finances or assets occurs when there is theft or mismanagement of money or property of the elderly. This includes unauthorized cashing of checks, coercion, forged signatures, or serious abuse of power of attorney or guardianship. Financial abuse of the elderly may come from complete strangers, such as scammers. But it can also come from caregivers or family members.

Do you believe that elderly abuse is happening to someone you know? It’s important that you take action to ensure that the mistreatment doesn’t continue. Contact the Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law to discuss your concerns with an experienced elderly abuse lawyer.

We will help you every step of the way, so you can rest easy knowing that the proper action is being taken to put a stop to the abuse once and for all. Whether it’s a loved one or a friend, we encourage you to contact us right away to discuss the best course of action.

Contact Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law Today

Crary Buchanan is a general practice law firm dedicated to providing expert legal services in the state of Florida. Our lawyers have significant legal expertise in virtually every major area of law, and most of our associates are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in their respective areas of proficiency.

This extensive legal experience, coupled with our many years of service and dedication in the community, enables our lawyers to provide comprehensive representation to our clients. So if you need a knowledgeable elderly abuse lawyer, please call or contact the law office of Crary Buchanan today. We proudly serve Stuart and the surrounding areas and are here to assist you with your legal concerns.

The information in this blog post is for reference only and not legal advice. As such, you should not decide whether to contact a lawyer based on the information in this blog post. Moreover, there is no lawyer-client relationship resulting from this blog post, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you need legal counsel, please consult a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.