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Institutional Abuse - Abuse, Elder

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?

Elder abuse takes many forms. It may leave visible injuries, such as cuts and bruises, or less visible emotional scars. Signs and symptoms of mistreatment vary with the type of abuse.

With physical abuse, a person may have:

  • broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
  • broken eyeglasses
  • bruises, black eyes, cuts, and rope marks
  • open wounds, cuts, punctures, or untreated injuries in various stages of healing
  • internal injuries
  • sudden changes in behavior
  • Other changes one might see with physical abuse include:

  • lab findings of a medicine overdose
  • a caregiver who refuses to let visitors see an elder alone
  • reports from the elder of being hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated
  • With emotional abuse, a person may:

  • be emotionally upset or agitated
  • be very withdrawn, not talkative, or not responsive
  • behave in unusual ways, such as by sucking, biting, and rocking
  • report being verbally or emotionally mistreated
  • With financial abuse, there may be:

  • a sudden change in a bank account
  • cashing an elder's checks without permission
  • new names added to the elder's bank signature card
  • unauthorized withdrawal of the elder's funds using an ATM card
  • changes in a will or other financial document
  • unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • unpaid bills despite available funds
  • the elder's report of financial exploitation
  • With neglect, a person may:

  • have signs of dehydration, malnutrition, or untreated health problems
  • have bedsores
  • have poor personal hygiene
  • be living in conditions that are not safe, sanitary, or clean
  • wear inappropriate or inadequate clothing
  • lose weight