As our family members age, it is common for them to require more assistance in their daily life and care. Many children and grandchildren of elderly adults in California are happy to help take care of their parents and grandparents. Other times, however, it is necessary for an elderly family member to be placed in a skilled facility in order to provide the type and level of care that he or she needs. No matter if an elderly adult lives in a home setting or nursing home facility, he or she may be vulnerable to abuse and/or exploitation. Being able to recognize the signs of elder abuse can go a long way to save lives and prevent mistreatment from occurring in the future.
According to helpguide.org, elder abuse is a major issue that goes largely unreported. It is estimated that over 500,000 elder abuse incidents are reported to authorities each year, but the actual number of incidents is believed to be much higher. Several different types of mistreatment are recognized as elder abuse under the law, and they each are associated with particular signs and symptoms to look out for. It is also explained that some symptoms of abuse overlap with signs of dementia and mental deterioration. That is why it is recommended that concerned individuals look for clusters of behavioral and physical signs, as well as signs of tension between the elderly person and his or her caregiver/s.
Signs of elder neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse may include but are not limited to:
- unexplained injuries
- damage to property
- incorrect administration of medications (drug overdose or leftover pills)
- unsanitary living conditions
- poor hygiene and/or unsuitable clothing
- unusual weight loss, dehydration, and/or malnutrition
- stained, bloody, or underclothing
- unexplained bruising and/or bleeding around the genitals
There are also signs to look out for healthcare fraud and financial exploitation. Signs of healthcare fraud often include issues revolving around the conditions of the skilled care facility, inadequate care, and duplicate billings for medical devices and/or services provided. Signs of financial exploitation can include:
- significant bank withdrawals
- suspicious changes to the person's bank account, will, power of attorney, etc.
- unpaid bills
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