Preventing Elder Abuse

Signs of Elder Abuse

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may indicate physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may indicate emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
    • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss indicate possible neglect.
    • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses may indicate verbal or emotional abuse.
    • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between caregiver and older adult are also signs.

Self-neglect is a form of elder abuse, which can include such behaviors as:

  • Hoarding of objects, newspapers/magazines, mail/paperwork, etc., and/or animal hoarding to the extent that the safety of the individual (and/or other household or community members) is threatened or compromised.
  • Failure to provide adequate food and nutrition for oneself.
  • Failure to take essential medications or refusal to seek medical treatment for serious illness
  • Leaving a burning stove unattended
  • Poor hygiene
  • Not wearing suitable clothing for the weather
  • Confusion
  • Inability to attend to housekeeping
  • Dehydration

Self-neglect is one of the most frequently reported concerns brought to adult protective services. Often, this accompanies declining health, isolation, dementia, or drug and alcohol dependency.

What To Do

If you suspect elder abuse, and you think danger is immediate, call 911 or local police.

Adult Protective Services (APS) is the social services program that looks into reported suspicions about abuse or neglect of people living in the community. In Michigan, call (855) 444-3911.

Be prepared to give the name, address, and contact information of the person you suspect is abused or neglected, and details about why you are concerned. You may be asked questions to gain more insight into the situation. You will be asked for your name and contact information; most states will take the report even if you do not identify yourself. Your information as reporter is confidential.