Do you suspect that your elderly relative, friend or neighbor is being abused by a caregiver or guardian? One in 10 adults over 60 are reported victims of exploitation, financial fraud, or physical, emotional or sexual abuse, and researchers believe that number is low because many cases are not reported. Over the next 16 years, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day, and that means the problem of elder abuse could be growing.

Elder abuse can be hard to substantiate and evidence is hard to gather without proper investigation. Victims may suffer from cognitive difficulties, making them less credible. Additionally, seniors may fear retaliation or the loss of care from the only person who helps them. And if the abuse is being caused by a child or grandchild, the elderly person may fear telling authorities because they do not want to be responsible for putting a family member in jail.

Women are more likely to be victims of these crimes, but elder abuse can happen to men, who may be even less likely to report the incident. All socio-economic groups and races are vulnerable to this exploitation, and the events can occur anywhere, including the victim’s home, the perpetrator’s home, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. The perpetrator could be a paid caregiver, a family member or intimate partner.

Signs that your loved one could be experiencing some kind of abuse.

Financial: According to Colorado Coalition for Elderly Rights and Abuse Prevention, financial abuse is the most common form of elder victimization, and a 2011 MetLife report states that $2.9 billion was wrongfully taken from seniors. Unauthorized, illegal, and improper use of financial resources of the victim takes many forms: co-mingling income of the senior with that of the caregiver; denying or limiting access to bank accounts and assets; not paying for adequate care out of the senior’s accounts; frequent “gifts” or payments to the caregiver; or a change of financial documents such as powers of attorney or wills. These actions are often achieved through forgery, intimidation, deception, or threats of refusing care.

Neglect: Failure to give medications, provide food and water, take care of basic hygiene, or provide necessities such as hearing aids or dentures are neglectful and put the adult at risk of injury. Other signs of neglect include a victim confined to bed without care, untreated bed sores, or a demented individual being left without supervision.

Psychological or emotional: An elder who shows unexplained or uncharacteristic changes is behavior, withdrawal, unexplained changes in alertness, or increased isolation may be experiencing abuse at the hands of a caregiver. Signs of abuse also include a caregiver being verbally aggressive or demeaning, as well as showing excessive concern about the senior’s spending habits.

Physical and Sexual: Although least common and often unreported, this type of trauma is likely occurring when the senior shows inexplicable bruises, fractures, welts, cuts or sores. Unexplainable sexually transmitted diseases may also be present. Sexual or physical abuse can happen at the hands of a caregiver or another resident in a care facility.

If you suspect any of these activities could be happening to your loved one, call us immediately. We’ll provide a free consultation about a private investigation.