While nobody likes to think of their elderly loved ones being abused, elder abuse happens both in the home and in facilities across the United States. Knowing when an elder is being abused may be difficult, especially if the individual is suffering from any form of memory difficulty, Alzheimer's, dementia or simply has trouble expressing themselves. There are several signs that might indicate that an elderly individual is being abused or neglected.

Excessive Bruising

While we tend to bruise more easily as we grow older due to loss of the ability of the skin to heal itself, there are some signs that might lead to evidence of abuse. If an elderly individual always seems to be bruised, the bruises are larger than you might expect and they are in places that are less likely to be casualties of basic life movement such as walking into furniture; it is possible that they are being abused.

Elder Silence

If the elderly individual hides the bruises that they have and doesn't want to talk about it or they always tell you the same story about how new bruises came to be, it is possible they are being abused. You will want to see if you can find out where they might have gotten the bruises and when.

Poor Hygiene and Change in Personality

For elderly individuals residing in a care facility you will want to look for signs that they have poor hygiene, that they have lost substantial weight or that they have become withdrawn. These could be signs that they are not getting the care that they deserve, or worse, that they are actually being manipulated or abused.

Poor Nutrition

If the elderly individual is not receiving the food that they need for their specific diet, they might be a case of abuse. The facility should be providing them with the proper medical care and nutrition as well as caring for their emotional needs. The physician in the facility should be able to tell you about the patient's current condition and how they are doing in the facility without question.

Frequent Accidents

When an elderly individual seems to be taken to the emergency room frequently for broken bones, bruises, burns or other injuries, it is possible that they are being abused. While elderly individuals often have spills and can easily hurt themselves, if there is a pattern it is likely abuse rather than simple hazards of life as a senior.

Regardless of whether you are sure of abuse or not, if you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused, make sure that you don't just let it go. Do some homework, ask some questions and get some help. You want to be sure that they are safe in their environment, whether that means safe from others or from themselves. Take the time to ask the questions before the problem elevates. You will find physicians and authorities to be very helpful in assisting you and in investigating the situation further in a careful manner.