Would You Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse?

Who is Likely to be a Victim of Elder Abuse

Many people have heard of child abuse but have never considered the possibility that seniors may suffer a similar fate. Elder abuse takes many forms including neglect and physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.  It can occur in long-term care facilities, but also in their own home at the hands of a caregiver, family member, friend, or another facility resident.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s data predicts that the elderly population, aged 65 or older, will reach 95 million by the year 2060.
  • 7 out of 10 seniors will turn to residential long-term care facilities or in-home assisted living programs to provide necessary medical and caregiving services.
  • 10 percent of seniors, or 1 in 10 of people aged 65+ will experience abuse each year according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Elder abuse frequently remains undisclosed. In a research study conducted by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, only one out of approximately 24 cases of elder abuse were officially reported to authorities.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elderly women are at a higher risk of experiencing abuse compared to elderly men.
  • The likelihood of elder abuse in individuals with disabilities rises as the number of disabilities they have increases. For those with one disability, the prevalence of abuse is 17.2%, but it increases to 21.4% for those with two or more disabilities. Additionally, the occurrence of abuse in the past month is more common in individuals with limitations in activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), and other disability conditions.

Elder Abuse in Kentucky

The Kentucky Elder Abuse Committee Annual Report found that over the last ten years, reports of alleged abuse in long-term care facilities have increased by 130.6% resulting in a 46.7% increase in investigations and a 43.6% increase in substantiated abuse claims.

A recent study by the Families for Better Care ranked Kentucky 29th out of 51 with a grade of “C” finding that 9.2% of Kentucky’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities recorded “severe deficiencies” in the quality of care in their facilities.

Do your homework when choosing long-term care and research all available options.  There are many nursing homes and long-term facilities that have an excellent record of care in safe surroundings within a stimulating environment for your loved one.

What are the Signs of Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can take various forms, and it’s important to be vigilant for signs of abuse in older individuals. The signs of elder abuse can include:

Physical Abuse:

  • Unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, or fractures.
  • Marks from restraints, such as rope marks on wrists.
  • Frequent or unexplained visits to the emergency room or healthcare providers.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse:

  • Withdrawal from social activities or family gatherings.
  • Unusual changes in behavior, including depression or anxiety.
  • Fearfulness or agitation, especially around specific individuals.
  • Verbal abuse, humiliation, or threats.

Financial Abuse:

  • Unexplained or sudden changes in the older person’s financial situation.
  • Missing money or valuables.
  • Unwarranted changes to wills, trusts, or power of attorney documents.
  • Forged signatures on financial transactions.
  • Unauthorized use of the older person’s credit cards or accounts.


  • Poor personal hygiene, including soiled clothing or lack of bathing.
  • Malnutrition or dehydration.
  • Untreated medical conditions or lack of necessary medication.
  • Living in unsanitary or hazardous conditions.
  • Lack of appropriate clothing or shelter.

Neglect by Others (Caregiver Neglect):

  • A caregiver failing to provide necessary care, such as assistance with bathing, dressing, or feeding.
  • Inadequate supervision, leading to accidents or injuries.
  • Leaving the older person in unsafe or unsanitary conditions (i.e. bed sores)
  • Failure to provide necessary medical care or medications (i.e. medicine mismanagement)

Sexual Abuse:

  • Unexplained sexually transmitted infections.
  • Bruising or injuries around the genital area.
  • Torn or bloody undergarments.
  • Behavioral changes, withdrawal, or signs of fear.

Once the choice is made between either a long-term facility or in-home care, continue to be regularly involved in your loved one’s care. Be visible. Interact regularly with the people who are involved in your loved one’s care. Most importantly, be proactive. Many people suspect abuse but are afraid to get involved or feel it’s none of their business.

Seniors, like children, are some of our most vulnerable citizens as they are often unable or afraid to speak for themselves. If your loved one resides in a long-term care facility or has an in-home caregiver, pay special attention to any sudden changes in their appearance, personality, living and financial condition and look for these most common signs of neglect or abuse.

What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse in Kentucky

If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, but are hesitant to get involved, or do not know how to proceed, the Becker Law Office is here to help you and to lead you through the process to provide necessary medical and caregiving services. To learn more about how to recognize the signs of abuse and see the official government report on nursing homes in your area, contact us today.