The 15th of June is National Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder abuse comes in many forms, and knowing how to prevent it, being able to spot it, and knowing what to do when you see it, is very important.

According to, more than 5 million people are affected by elder abuse each year. But what does elder abuse look like? It is complex because it can come in different forms.

  • Physical abuse can range from slapping or shoving to severe restraining or even beatings. Anytime someone uses enough force to cause pain or injury, it is considered physical abuse.
  • Psychological abuse is the most common type of elderly abuse and can include yelling, disrespectful comments, repeatedly ignoring, threatening, or isolating. A lot of psychological abuse is unintentional and stems from caregiver stress.
  • Financial exploitation can range from misusing someone’s retirement income or social security benefits, using credit cards without permission, forging checks, changing or adding names to accounts or life insurance policies, or even persuading someone to give their money willingly.
  • Caregiver neglect is also a form of abuse that can be unintentional and involves failing to meet the needs of an older person. Whether it be providing food, medications, or assistance with basic day-to-day or meeting physical, social, and emotional needs.

Here are some signs of elder abuse to be aware of:

  • Unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, or scars
  • Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food and water, or clean and appropriate clothing
  • Lack of medical aids (glasses, walker, teeth, hearing aid, medications)
  • Sunken eyes or unexplained weight loss
  • Untreated bedsores
  • Dismissive attitude or statements about injuries
  • Unreasonably fearful or suspicious
  • Lack of interest in social contacts
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Venereal diseases or vaginal infections
  • Signs of insufficient care or unpaid bills despite adequate financial resources
  • Large withdrawals from bank accounts or other unusual ATM activity

These signs can also be the result of many conditions or medications, but they should prompt further investigation to determine the cause. If things cannot be explained medically then it is a signal to elder abuse.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused do not feel embarrassed or think that you should not poke your nose into someone else’s business since 6 out of 10 cases of elder abuse is unreported for an average of 3 years, and that is a travesty. The first step (if possible) is to try to talk with the older adult when the two of you are alone. Tell them that you suspect they are being mistreated and offer to take them to get help. Every state has a designated service to investigate and protect against elder abuse, known as National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA).  You can visit them online at to immediately file a report.

You can also visit which is a government site for Americans and their caregivers to get information on services and aid available to them. Also, speaking with physicians is a great way to get help.  Physicians have a legal obligation to report claims of abuse and provide safety for the elderly.

The cornerstone to prevention is awareness and education. Media coverage about abuse in nursing homes sheds light on what can happen in places that are supposed to be caring for our elderly, but for cases happening at home, a concerted effort to educate the public is needed.

Respite care is essential to reduce caregiver stress. Caregiver stress and burnout is the number one cause of unintentional elder abuse and neglect. Caregivers cannot be expected to care for someone if they are not taking care of themselves.

Aging at home is an important part of not feeling the neglect and isolation that can sometimes come with nursing home care. Inhome Advantage advocates against elder abuse and our caregivers are trained to look for signs and to provide respite care that prevents abuse.

Please take the time to observe, talk, ask, and report, elder abuse is serious, and if you suspect something say something. For more information or to schedule an appointment reach out to us today.

American Psychological Association

National Institute of Aging