How to Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse in a Senior Loved One

Knowing these signs of elder abuse can help you keep senior loved ones safe.

Even though abusing an older person is something that would never cross the mind of most people, it is a tragically common situation in the United States. Elder abuse occurs in many ways, from physical to emotional, and it strikes the most frail and vulnerable among us.

Considering that elder abuse is frequently a voiceless problem, it’s critical for friends and family members of older adults to be familiar with the warning signs of elder abuse so as to protect their older loved ones. Our home care experts have gathered together a few of the warning signs that may signify elder abuse.

Physical Abuse:

  • Indications of injury such as welts, bruises, or scars, particularly if they display symmetrically on two sides of the body  
  • Broken bones or sprains 
  • Regularly missed medications or drug overdoses  
  • Cracked or broken eyeglasses
  • Evidence of being restrained, like red marks or bruises on the wrists 
  • Caregivers who refuse to let the senior be seen alone 

Emotional Abuse:

  • Controlling behaviors from the caregiver, such as:
    • Yelling at or making threats to the senior
    • Humiliating or making fun of the senior
    • Neglecting the senior
    • Separating the older adult from friends and relatives
    • Behavior that resembles dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to himself/herself 


  • Dramatic weight loss or malnutrition
  • Physical complications, such as bed sores, that have not been taken care of
  • Unclean living conditions
  • Neglected hygiene
  • Improper clothing or covering for the weather
  • Perilous living conditions (no heat or running water; defective electrical wiring, other fire dangers)
  • Abandonment of the senior in a public place

The very early signs of elder abuse may be tough to identify and may appear to be signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s or increased frailty. Additionally, a caregiver who is abusing the older adult might justify signs of abuse away. 

To help prevent abuse, make sure to call and visit senior loved ones often and be on the lookout for any changes in personality or behavior. If any indications of elder abuse are noticed or suspected, they should be reported immediately. 

Harmony Home Health & Hospice can help families keep seniors safe, happy, and healthy. As the preferred provider of elderly care in Orem and surrounding communities, we can help with in-home care services to ensure that older adults are safe and well cared for. 

Contact us online or call 1-877-I-NEED-CARE for a professional in-home assessment to learn how we can help your loved one.