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Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

Image shows an older woman looking at an older man seated next two her. The two have concerned looks on their faces.

Because elder abuse can take many forms, there may be many different types of warning signs that something is wrong. Sometimes, these signs will be obvious evidence that abuse, neglect, or exploitation is taking place. Other times, it may be less obvious. Since not all elder abuse is physical, the warning signs are also not always physical. To spot abuse, you must consider any factors that can indicate that a person's needs are not being met.

If you spot any of these signs, or see other signs that things aren't right, don't ignore them - report it.

Potential signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation include (but are not limited to):

  • The person has bruises, cuts, or other signs of physical harm;
  • The person suddenly begins acting differently;
  • The person avoids doing things they used to enjoy;
  • The person stops spending spending time with people they used to enjoy being around, or starts spending time with other people instead;
  • Another person refuses to allow visitors to see the person alone;
  • The person's home has become unclean, needs repairs, or is dangerous;
  • The person is not eating well, shows signs of dehydration, or is not clean, groomed, and dressed appropriately;
  • Relatives and other people who were not a big part of the person's life before suddenly become interested in their rights and property;
  • The person, suddenly and without explanation, changes their will or transfers money, bank account access, or property to someone else;
  • The person cannot or will not explain what happened to missing money or property; 
  • The person has several unpaid bills or service disconnection notices;
  • The person has missed several medical appointments; and
  • The person takes more or less of their medications than they are supposed to.