Elder Abuse and Neglect: Warning Signs, Prevention and Reporting

June 15th marks the eleventh commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Because of WEAAD more people know and understand what elder abuse is and there is more recognition of human rights, education, advocacy and policy development.

Unfortunately, many elderly adults are abused in their own homes, in relatives’ homes, and even in facilities responsible for their care. In the U.S. alone, more than half a million reports of abuse against elderly Americans reach authorities every year, and millions more cases go unreported. As many as 1 in 3 nursing homes in the United States were cited for almost 9,000 instances of abuse over a two-year period. Common problems can include untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and poor sanitation and hygiene. (ABC News, David Ruppe)


Physical Abuse: Non-accidental use of force against an elderly person

Emotional Abuse: Verbal forms of abuse such as intimidation and humiliation as well as non-verbal forms such as ignoring, isolating or menacing

Sexual Abuse: Includes both physical violations as well as forcing the individual to view sexual acts or pornography

Neglect: Failure to fullfill a caretaking duty whether intentional or unintentional

Financial Exploitation: Unauthorized use of an elderly person's funds or property

Healthcare Fraud and Abuse: Charging for services that were not performs, overcharging for services, or over/under medicating

  • Unexplained signs of injury
  • Broken bones or sprains
  • Signs of being restrained
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
  • Unexplained or sudden mood changes
  • Duplicate medical billings
  • Unexplained medication changes
  • Sudden changes to legal documents such as Wills and Powers of Attorney without consulting an attorney
  • Significant withdrawal of funds from bank accounts or charges to credit cards
  • Watch for warning signs that might indicate elder abuse. If you suspect abuse, report it.
  • Take a look at their medication. Does the amount of pills in the vial match with the date of the prescription? Are they are medication that they were not on before?
  • Watch for possible financial abuse. Ask to see their bank accounts and credit card statements to find any unauthorized transactions.
  • Call and visit as often as you can. 
  • Offer to stay with them so the caretaker can have a break.
How Can Elder Law of Omaha Help?

Elder law attorneys can guide families to important resources available to prevent and identify elder abuse. This can include legal documents, adult guardianships/conservatorships and referrals to reputable senior services in your area.

Call (402) 614-6400 today to set up your FREE 30 minute attorney consultation or visit our website at www.ElderLawOmaha.com.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.