Tips on Spotting and Handling Elder Abuse

9:39 AM, Jan 31, 2019

Placing a loved one in a nursing facility is a difficult decision to begin with, and the possibility of nursing home abuse only compounds the emotional difficulty. By learning some of the signs of abuse and neglect, and financial exploitation, you may be able to respond quickly. Outward physical abuse is rare. While warning signs of elder abuse can be subtle, awareness of small signals can increase changes of early intervention and further harm. To stop abuse and exploitation, it is important to know the signs.

Here are the five questions that will help you prevent it:

  1. What is Elder Abuse?

Neglect is the most common form of abuse. Neglect is failing to act to remove someone or yourself from harm’s way. Exploitation is the misuse of one person’s funds or property by another person. Abuse is a threat to a person’s health or safety caused by another person. In most cases people are abused in more than one way. Physical abuse is pain or injury to a person. Emotional abuse or psychological abuse defined as “chronic verbal aggression.” An abuser can also harass or intimidate a person into doing something they have the right not to do, or prevent them from doing something they have the right to do. Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual comments or actions, or inappropriate sexual comments or actions to a person who is not able to understand what is happening.

  1. What are Some Signs of Abuse/Neglect?

There are several common signs of nursing home abuse. Physical abuse can show up in the form of bruises, broken bones, abrasions, pressure marks, odd excuses, and unexplained injuries. Neglect can be seen in unclean clothing, soiled diapers, bedsores, weight loss, and the general condition of the nursing home. Abuse and neglect can also take the form of verbal or emotional behavior. If a loved one is experiencing emotional or verbal abuse, he/she can exhibit odd behavior, become nervous or withdrawn, and isolate themselves. Signs also include seeing a caregiver snapping or yelling at a loved one or witnessing a tense interaction.

  1. What Questions Should You Ask Yourself to Identify Abuse/Neglect?
  • Does my loved one have injuries or show signs of neglect?
  • Are my loved one’s complaints insistent and frequent?
  • Is my loved one complaining of a particular nursing home staff member?
  • Has my loved one displayed unusual behavioral changes?
  • Was there a medication error?
  1. What are Some Signs of Financial Exploitation?
  • Bills not being paid
  • Money disappearing and unaccounted for
  • A caregiver taking money for a purchase that does not arrive
  • Unusual purchases
  • Increased use of credit cards
  • More frequent withdrawal of cash
  • Adding someone new to a bank account
  • Unexplained alteration of a will or legal document
  • Execution of a power of attorney
  • Transfer of property to a staff member.
  1. What Steps Can You Take If You Suspect Elder Abuse?

Stay tuned for the next article discussing the steps you can take if you suspect abuse of a loved one. Edmiston & Colton Law Firm has been representing victims of nursing home abuse and neglect for over 30 years. For more information, visit or call (406) 259-9986.

Our Location

310 Grand Avenue
Billings, MT 59101

(406) 545-0889

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