The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at ABLE works to uphold the rights of people who receive long-term care by investigating and resolving complaints about long-term care ranging from admission and discharge problems to abuse, neglect and violations of civil rights.

Indicators of Elder Abuse

Why does elder abuse and neglect happen? Many factors can contribute to an elder abuse situation. Sometimes, there is misunderstanding or ignorance on the part of the caregiver, such as when a long-term care staff person does not understand the effects of aging. In nursing homes, in particular, staff may be prone to commit elder abuse because of insufficient staffing, lack of training, or stressful working conditions.

Abuse may happen when a caregiver does not know how to deal with a difficult or demanding situation and is under stress. The caregiver may vent impatience, frustration, and anger on the elder whom they are assigned to protect and nurture.

Family members and friends can help prevent elder abuse and neglect by knowing what to look for and how to respond.

Indicators of elder abuse and neglect:

  • Make sure that the elderly person is eating properly and taking required medications. A weakened elder cannot think clearly about the care being provided to him or her.
  • Look for signs of physical injury, as well as signs of psychological distress, such as becoming withdrawn, depressed, or agitated.
  • Look for possible financial exploitation. Scan bank account and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions, if you have permission from the elder.
  • Call and visit as frequently as possible. Keep the lines of communication open so that the elder feels comfortable talking about abusive behaviors.