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How to recognize the signs of elder abuse

Ontario residents with loved ones in care centres for the elderly may be concerned about the standard of care provided at the facility. Elder abuse is rampant, and knowing the signs to look out for may save a life -- or prevent humiliation and injuries. Unexplained abrasions, burns, bruises and broken bones can indicate physical abuse, along with multiple visits to different medical facilities.

Signs of neglect include messy surroundings, dirty clothes, bedsores, soiled linen and diapers, and unexplained weight loss. Noticing the absence of the elderly person's glasses, cane or hearing aid, and, if the caregiver fails to assist with taking medication and getting dressed, it should raise concern. Emotional and verbal abuse are most difficult to spot, especially if the patient has dementia. Victims typically react with apathy, withdrawal and nervousness, and an abusing caregiver may try to prevent contact with others.

Seniors are vulnerable and might fall victim to sexual abusers, and signs may include bruising in the breast and genital areas, rectal or vaginal bleeding, uncalled for touchiness or flirtation by the caregiver and more. Financial exploitation is also rampant, and often only spotted after severe damage is done. Unpaid bills, unusual purchases, frequent withdrawals for unaccounted purchases and adding an authorized user to credit cards or bank accounts are telltale signs.

Reporting any elder abuse to authorities and calling 911 if urgent intervention is needed may be the most appropriate steps to take. However, those guilty of elder abuse in Ontario can be held accountable. The best way to get an investigation underway may be to consult with an experienced elder law lawyer who can launch an independent investigation and act upon the results in the most appropriate manner.

Source:, "5 Signs of Elder Abuse", Judy Speicher, Accessed on Feb. 9, 2017

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