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Recognizing Abuse

Recognizing Older Adult Abuse

Financial Abuse

The following list contains examples of financial abuse and is reproduced from: Financial Abuse of Older Adults: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence; Teresa Lukawiecki; 1999

  • Large sums of money are taken from a bank account
  • Signatures on cheques or other papers look suspicious
  • The older person is in debt and does not know why
  • Bank statements are no longer being sent to the older person’s home
  • The older person cannot buy food or personal care items, or pay bills
  • The older person’s will is unexpectedly changed
  • The older person’s home is unexpectedly sold
  • Personal belongings, such as clothes or jewellery, are missing from an older person’s home or room in an institution
  • The older person is asked to sign legal papers (such as a power of attorney, a will or a joint deed to a house)
  • without being able to understand what they mean
  • The older person cannot remember signing papers or making certain money transfers
  • The older person is not allowed to decide or speak for himself or herself
  • The older person is isolated from friends and family
  • The older person feels afraid or worried when talking about money

Physical Abuse

Unexplained reason or explanation inconsistent with: bruises, welts, swelling, lacerations, punctures, fractures, restricted movement, repeated falls, internal injuries. Other indicators may be rope burns, hypothermia or grip marks.

Sexual Abuse

Genital infections, pain, bruising, bleeding in genital area, inappropriate sexual comments by caregiver, rope marks or other signs of physical restraint

Psychological (Emotional) Abuse

Low self esteem, agitation, difficulty sleeping or needs excessive sleep, withdrawal, passivity, resignation, tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness / helplessness, unexplained fearfulness (particularly in the presence of the caregiver), significant change in weight, no visitors/outings, deference to the caregiver.


  • A senior may be suffering from neglect if he or she appears:
  • emaciated, malnourished or dehydrated
  • confused
  • inappropriately dressed
  • under- or over- medicated
  • unkempt appearance or personal surroundings (i.e, soiled clothes or linens)
  • has open sores

Signs of neglect in a senior’s living environment include:

  • home is dirty or in a state of disrepair
  • smell of urine or feces in the home
  • lack of required safety features in the home

Other possible indicators of neglect:

  • the senior is left alone without supervision or assistance when needed
  • medical appointments are cancelled on a regular basis or senior does not show up for the scheduled appointment

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