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Warning Signs of Abuse

Sometimes, abuse can be easily detected and other times, they are not. You may see clear signs of neglect or abuse when visiting an elder but often there are invisible signs and symptoms that are more subtle. Both result in abuse and the elder suffer from loss of dignity and respect.

Click below to learn how you can you can detect the different warning signs better.


  • Dehydration, malnutrition (without illness-related cause)
  • Untreated bedsores or preventable conditions
  • Poor personal hygeine
  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns
  • Unattended medical needs, problems or hazardous conditions
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Unclean apperance, such as having unwashed hair or notably dirty clothes
  • Unsafe living conditions/arrangements (for example, improper wiring, no heat, or no running water)
  • Poor coloration, sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Inadequate administration of medication
  • Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (for example, dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
  • Forced isolation
  • Confusion
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Non-responsiveness; Passive
  • Isolation, Withdrawal; Depression
  • Stops taking part in activities they once enjoyed (i.e. family time, outdoors, attending faith services)
  • Has mixed feelings or inconsistent ideas about something or someone
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual routines
  • Depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between themselves and their caregivers, family members, spouses, etc.
  • The older adult's experiences are made to feel unimportant or threatened
  • Showing signs of withdrawal
  • Contradictory statements; unreasonable or improbable stories
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Sudden changes in financial situations
  • Unexplained withdrawals from the older adult’s ATM card or checking or savings accounts
  • Unexplained or unusual credit card purchases
  • Missing cash, jewelry, or other valuables
  • Anger
  • Speaks of elder as a burden
  • Hostile behavior towards elder
  • Lack of affection towards elder
  • Has conflicting accounts of incidents
  • Stops elder from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Does not show interest or importance to elder
  • Flirtation or unsolicited/inappropriate comments as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationships 
  • Appears to be poorly trained or overworked

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