Thursday, September 13, 2012

Signs of Elder Abuse

An article by Wicked Local-Easton, located in Massachusetts, recently ran an article about the red flags of elder abuse.  The article was originally written by Diane DiGorgi on 8/12/2012 and may be found in its original form here.

In Massachusetts, there are 54 new reports of elder abuse filed every day. Yet for every report made, another 25 incidents of abuse go unreported.
The tell-tale signs of elder abuse often go unnoticed by friends or neighbors. Elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or trusted individual, like a family member, that lead to harm of an elder.
Abuse takes many forms – physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, emotional or psychological abuse and abandonment. Self-neglect is also a form of abuse in our state.
If you suspect elder abuse, report it! Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation.
To report elder abuse, contact a Protective Services agency by calling 1-800-922-2275. You will be asked what you observed and who was involved, so it’s important that you write down details of what you saw and when you saw it. You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; the professionals will conduct an investigation. Here are some of the red flags or signs of elder abuse:
Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food or clean and appropriate clothing, Lack of medical aids - glasses, walker, teeth, hearing aid, medications, Person with dementia left unsupervised, Person confined to bed is left without care, Home cluttered, filthy, in disrepair, or having fire and safety hazards, Home without adequate facilities - stove, refrigerator, heat, cooling, working plumbing and electricity, Untreated pressure/bed sores (pressure ulcers)
Financial abuse/exploitation
Lack of amenities victim could afford, Vulnerable elder/adult voluntarily giving excessive financial reimbursement/gifts for care and companionship, Caregiver controls elder’s money but fails to provide for elder’s needs, Elder has signed property transfers, power of attorney, new will, or similar documents but is unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means
Psychological/emotional abuse
Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, Caregiver isolates elder, does not allow others into the home or to speak to the elder, Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring
Physical/sexual abuse
Inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores or burns, Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
Under state law, any doctor, nurse, social worker, policeman, fireman, therapist, home health worker or other professional who has reasonable cause to believe that an elder is suffering from abuse, must file a report. Reports can be taken 24/7. Anyone who sees a red flag of abuse should report concerns to a Protective Services agency or, in a life-threatening situation, to the police.
Diana DiGiorgi is executive director of Old Colony Elder Services which serves 20 towns in Plymouth County as well as Avon, Easton and Stoughton. The organization’s mission is to provide services that will support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health and prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at

Pennsylvania also has its share of elder abuse problems.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania who pursues many elder abuse cases.  For more information on his firm, please go to or call his firm at 814-946-4100.

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