AlzU Blog

Alzheimer’s Caregivers-Know the Signs of Elder Abuse

If you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and you employ help for respite care, it’s vital that you are informed about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. 
Of course no one likes to think about the prospect of their loved one being abused by anyone, let alone another caregiver, but when it comes to this controversial issue, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Knowing the signs and tuning into what exactly to watch for can actually increase a Caregivers’ comfort level in trusting an outsider to care for his/her loved one with AD.

Types of Abuse

There are several different types of abuse including; physical, mental, sexual abuse, neglect (not responding to the needs of a care recipient) and abandonment (such as leaving an elderly person with dementia unsupervised).  There’s also a type of abuse involving taking advantage of a person with AD financially.

Signs of Abuse

Several of the signs of abuse can mimic signs and symptoms of depression and or advanced symptoms of AD.  When assessing your loved one, be sure to take all of his/her symptoms into consideration before jumping to any conclusions about neglect or abuse.

Signs of neglect or abuse in the elderly include;

Sudden and unexplained weight loss
Signs of trauma (like agitation, or rocking back and forth)
Difficulty sleeping
Unexplained bruising or injuries
Becomes withdrawn and/or suddenly stops participating in activities
Appearance is disheveled
Dirty environment-unwashed clothes or bedsheets (when caregiver has been assigned these duties)
Flinching when people come near
Bedsores, skin breakdown, or other types of preventable conditions

If you discover some signs of abuse, try talking to your loved one to see if he/she can give you any information when you are alone.  Keep in mind that perpetrators may have convinced your loved one to keep the abuse secret.  If you highly suspect abuse has occurred, contact your local Adult Protective Services office and get help from a professional.

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