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Warning Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse


Neglect is a form of abuse that can be hard to identify, but it is the most common type of elder abuse. As an outsider looking in, you may notice things that suggest that the elder is not getting the care that they need. An elder who is being neglected may look dirty, can smell or have signs of physical deterioration (sores or bruises), or may be dressed inappropriately for the weather. The elder’s home can also show signs that he or she is being neglected if it is overly dirty or otherwise is an unsafe environment, this can be interpreted as a red flag for neglect. In some cases of elder abuse and neglect, the elder is not allowed to leave their home, have visitors, or use the telephone. This may also be an aspect of a domestic abuse relationship if the primary caregiver is a spouse or child of the elder.

If you think that an elder is being neglected, reach out to them and privately talk to them about your concerns. There are many resources available that can protect that person from further abuse and can help set up services to ensure that they get the care that they deserve.


If you are concerned for someone’s immediate safety, call 911.


Signs of physical abuse are often explained away by the frailty that comes with old age. As in any situation of abuse, an elderly victim may be reluctant to report physical abuse out of fear of the abuser. The combination of these two factors creates an increasingly dangerous situation for a victim who cannot defend him or herself and who does not have someone to intervene on their behalf. If an elderly person is suffering from physical pain or injury (bruises, welts, scars, or broken bones), has experienced either a drug overdose or a failure to be properly medicated, or is not allowed to be without their caregiver, they might be suffering from physical abuse. Abuse is often perpetrated by a caregiver who is also the spouse or adult child of the elderly person. These domestic violence situations can be incredibly difficult for an elderly person to report due to the complex underlying relationships with their family and friends.

If you suspect that someone is being abused in the state of Indiana, you should call for help. If the threat of harm is immediate, dial 911.


Elder emotional abuse can be an incredibly difficult type of abuse to uncover. Since the abuse often occurs within the confines of the home or behind closed doors, it can be very difficult to see the signs. In many cases, the victim is too afraid or too ashamed of the abuse to tell someone. However, someone close to the victim might notice that the elder has withdrawn from normal activities or has suddenly become much less alert. In cases of severe emotional abuse, you might see the abuser, who is often the caregiver, humiliate or intimidate the elder. This may also be an aspect of a domestic abuse relationship if the primary caregiver is a spouse or child of the elder.

If you or someone you know is being emotionally abused in the state of Indiana, there are places to go for help.
If the threat of harm is immediate, dial 911.


As with many other victims of sexual and domestic abuse, elders often do not report sexual or domestic violence. Their reasons, however, are often much more complex: sometimes the abuse is at the hands of a caregiver; they are afraid they won’t be believed or there will be retaliation for telling; or they do not know where to seek services.


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.


Financial exploitation of elders is a common type of abuse. Because many elderly people have savings accounts, fixed income through social security, or own their homes, they become the perfect target for exploitation. Sadly, many elders who are financially exploited experience this abuse at the hands of trusted caregivers or family members. This can make the victim feel heartbroken, embarrassed and ashamed and they may choose not to report the abuse for fear that their loved one will get in trouble. For elders who are financially exploited by strangers, it can be very hard for them to believe that abuse happened to them, or they can feel so embarrassed that they “let” this happen that they don’t report the abuse. Financial exploitation can have devastating impacts on the victim; not only through the loss of money, but the victim may experience physical and emotional reactions as well.

If you or someone you know is being financially exploited, it is important to get help before it’s too late and the money is gone. Even if you are uncertain whether abuse is actually occurring, if you suspect something isn’t right and live in Indiana, you should call a professional and get help. If the threat of harm is immediate, dial 911.


  • Adult Protective Services 

  • Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana

  • Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

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