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Warning signs of elder abuse

Once you have placed an aging parent into a short-term or long-term care facility you will want to know that they are being treated with respect and compassion. Unfortunately, people 60 and over have a one in 10 chance of experiencing some type of elder abuse. Seventy percent of sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes but is believed only 30 percent are actually reported.

Perpetrators range from children and other family members and spouses to staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Seniors vulnerable to such abuse are those who have a mental impairment (e.g. Alzheimer's) or are isolated socially. Those who have experienced abuse have a higher risk of death than those who have not. 

Fortunately, neither you nor your parents have to stand idly by. By knowing the signs of elder abuse, you can become the voice that speaks out.

Warning signs

1. Physical abuse: bruises, abrasions, pressure marks or burns.

2. Emotional abuse: sudden changes in alertness, withdrawing from regular activities or seeming unusually depressed, strained or tense relationships or frequent arguments with their caregivers.

3. Financial abuse: an unexpected or abrupt change in a parent's financial statements or situation.

4. Neglect: bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene or weight loss that is unusual.

5. Verbal abuse: behavior from staff that belittles, makes threats or uses power and control over your parent.

6. Sexual abuse: STDs, bruises in the genital area, thighs or breasts, unexplained vaginal bleeding, torn or stained clothing, difficulty walking or sitting, depressed, withdrawn, anxious about caregiver, agitation and unusual change in mood.

If you feel that your loved one is in immediate danger, seek help immediately. Otherwise you can contact a knowledgeable attorney to assist you with filing a report and advise you of rights and possible remedies available to you and your parent. 

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