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How to watch for less-obvious signs of abuse

It's easy and ideal to think you'll be able to spot signs of abuse of a loved one. Physical injuries might be easy to spot in some cases and behavioral changes may be drastic enough to notice quickly, but not all signs of abuse are alike.

Emotional, mental and financial abuse of the elderly are serious problems to address, but are not always readily noticeable. Identifying signs of any kind of abuse can prove challenging for anyone, so it's important to be aware of some less obvious signs of mistreatment.

In terms of caring for an elderly loved one, looking for indications of neglect or mistreatment is a big way you can help them in the later years. Age can bring illness and other types of deficiencies which is why it's important for others to watch for behavioral and physical changes that indicate potential harm.

Less-obvious signs of abuse

The obvious signs of abuse such as bruises, cuts, fractures, infections and unexplained illness or weight loss are only some of the signs of mistreatment to watch for. In cases of neglect, a person may present less-obvious symptoms from various types of mistreatment. Some may include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased anger or violence
  • Looking disheveled or unkempt
  • Inability to express even simple thoughts or feelings
  • Onset of increased fear or anxiety around people
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities

Each case of mistreatment will present differently. Someone experiencing abuse may maintain a positive demeanor despite the circumstances which is one form of coping.

How to discuss potential mistreatment

The keys to identifying and protecting a loved one from mistreatment are communication and due diligence. One of the main things you can do is talk to the person for whom you feel concern and let them know they can trust and confide in you.

Be their advocate. Let them know you believe their experiences and will do what is necessary to keep them as safe as possible. No one will spot every sign of mistreatment every time, but having the information and maintaining a dialogue can help you be proactive in safeguarding your loved ones from pain and suffering.

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