What can I do if an older adult is being abused?

2. Learn about the warning signs

Elder abuse can be hard to recognize.

The following signs, especially if there’s more than one, could mean that someone’s at risk or is being abused:

  • weight loss, or injuries, cuts, and bruises that the person cannot or does not want to explain
  • poor hygiene, dirty living conditions, or unsuitable clothing
  • not taking medication
  • unexplained or sudden withdrawals of money from bank accounts
  • tension with caregivers
  • changes in personality or mood and withdrawing from social activities

The person might also show new behaviours that seem like dementia, such as forgetting or being confused.

Who’s at risk

It’s helpful to know what puts older adults at risk of being abused.

Older adults are more likely to be abused if they:

  • depend on other people
  • have conflicts in their family or stress in their care relationships
  • no longer have control over making decisions
  • are socially isolated from family, friends, and their community
  • live in remote communities
  • have addiction issues, depression, or other mental health issues
  • have a cognitive impairment, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which causes them to have trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions
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