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Warning Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
 
Together, we have the power to prevent abuse

Watch for signs

Abuse of older adults aged 65 and older and adults with physical disabilities under the age of 65 can include:
 
 
 
In addition, self-neglect is where individuals lack the ability to care for themselves, which can also lead to harm.

Abuse can happen anywhere

Abuse can happen wherever someone lives, such as a person's own home or the home of family or friends. It can also occur in a professional care setting such as a nursing facility, a residential care facility, an assisted living facility, an adult foster home, a retirement home or a room-and-board home.

Adult abuse is expected to increase

Each year more than 20,000 calls of concern come in and we investigate more than 12,000 complaints of adult abuse and self-neglect. In 2010, 13 percent of Oregon's population was 65 or older. In 2030, 20 percent will be 65 or older.

Physical abuse

Indicators that may be warning signs of physical abuse:
  • Cuts, lacerations, punctures, wounds.
  • Bruises, welts, discolorations, grip marks.
  • Any unexplained injury that doesn't fit with the given explanation of the injury.
  • Any injury incompatible with the person's history of unexplained injuries.
  • Any injury which has not been properly cared for (sometimes injuries are hidden on areas of the body normally covered by clothing).
  • Poor skin condition or poor skin hygiene.
  • Dehydration and/or malnourishment without illness-related cause.
  • Unexplained loss of weight.
  • Burns, possibly caused by cigarettes, caustics, acids or friction from ropes or chains.
  • Soiled clothing or bed linens.
If you believe an older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to physical abuse, contact your local DHS or AAA office. If you believe an assault or crime has been committed, call your local law enforcement. If an injury needs medical attention, get immediate medical help or call 911.
 
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Neglect

Indicators that may be warning signs of neglect:
  • The person being cared for is not given the opportunity to speak for themselves without the presence of the caregiver.
  • The caregiver has an attitude of indifference or anger toward the person they are caring for.
  • Family members of the caregiver blame the person being cared for (frequently related to incontinence).
  • The caregiver exhibits aggressive behavior, including threats, insults or harassment toward the person being cared for.
  • The caregiver has problems with drugs or alcohol.
  • The caregiver exhibits inappropriate displays of affection towards the person being cared for.
  • The caregiver isolates family members from the person being cared for.
  • The caregiver is unwilling to work with other care providers on a care plan for the person being cared for.
  • Dirt, fecal/urine smell or other health and safety hazards in elder's living environment.
  • Leaving an elder in an unsafe or isolated place.
  • Rashes, sores, lice on the elder.
  • Malnourishment or dehydration and/or sudden weight loss.
  • Untreated medical condition.
If you believe an older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to neglect, contact your local DHS or AAA office. If they are non-responsive or seriously injured, get medical help or call 911.
 
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Abandonment

Indicators that may be warning signs of abandonment:
  • The desertion at a shopping center or other public location.
  • A person's own report of being abandoned.
  • If you believe an older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to abandonment and contact your local DHS or AAA office. If they need immediate medical care, call 911.
 
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Verbal or emotional abuse 

Indicators that may be warning signs of verbal or emotional abuse:

  • Being emotionally upset or agitated;
  • Being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or non responsive;
  • Unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia e.g., sucking, biting, rocking); and
  • An elder's report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated.
If you believe an older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to significant emotional or verbal abuse, contact your local DHS or AAA office.

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Financial exploitation 

Indicators that may be warning signs of financial exploitation:
  • Unusual or inappropriate activity surrounding investment properties or in bank accounts, including the use of ATM cards, to make large or repeated withdrawals.
  • Signatures on checks, etc. that do not resemble the person's signature, or signatures when the person cannot write.
  • Power of attorney given, or recent changes in or creation of a will or trust, when the person is incapable of making such decisions.
  • Unpaid bills, overdue rent, utility shut-off notices.
  • Excessive spending by a caregiver on himself for new clothing, jewelry, automobiles.
  • Lack of spending on the care of the person, including personal grooming items.
  • Missing personal belongings, such as art, silverware or jewelry.
  • Recent sale of assets and properties.
 
If you believe an older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to financial exploitation, contact your local DHS or AAA office. If you believe a crime has been committed, call your local law enforcement agency.

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Sexual abuse

Indicators that may be warning signs of sexual abuse: 
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.
  • Torn or bloody underwear.
  • Bruised breasts.
  • Venereal diseases or vaginal infections.
  • Sudden changes in the emotional or psychological state of the person.
If you believe an older adult or an adult with physical disability someone is being subjected to sexual abuse, contact your local DHS or AAA office. If you believe a sexual crime has been committed, call your local law enforcement. If you suspect rape or an examination is needed, get medical immediate help or call 911.

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Involuntary seclusion

Indicators that may be warning signs of involuntary seclusion: 
  • An elder's report of not being allowed to see or talk with people reasonably would see or talk too.
  • Kept away from where others can go.
  • Not allowed to use the telephone.
  • Not allowed to receive or send mail.
If you believe older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to wrongful restraint, contact your local DHS or AAA office

 
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Wrongful restraint

Indicators that may mean warning signs of physical or chemical restraint: 
  • Being sedated;
  • Going to bed at an usually early time or uncharacteristically early bedtime;
  • Bruises or remarks on both wrists, both ankles, or a strip-like mark or bruise across the chest, and
  • An elder's report of an elder's report of tied up or sedated or not allowed to move.

If you believe older adult or an adult with physical disability is being subjected to wrongful restraint, contact your local DHS or AAA office