12 Warning Signs of Elderly Neglect or Abuse by an In-Home Caregiver

Act as an advocate for your loved one's basic rights of quality care.

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

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Caregiver and elderly patient emotional abuse

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It is most important to realize that in the home, you are the ears and eyes on your elderly family member as there may be no other willing or capable person. Act as an advocate for your loved one's basic rights of quality care by familiarizing yourself with the following signs and symptoms of elderly mistreatment, neglect or abuse in the home by caregivers. If you recognize any of these signs and symptoms be sure to request an urgent meeting to voice your concerns with the Home Care Agency Director. Resolution should be expected immediately with complete satisfaction and if otherwise the agency's services must be terminated. If the caregiver is privately hired then action should be taken to dismiss the caregiver right away in order avoid putting your elderly loved one any further risk.

1) Family visitors to home are not allowed to be left alone with loved one without caregiver present due to fear he or she might express negative feelings about care-giving situation or displeasure with caregiver.

2) Family discussions with caregivers often report that your loved one has no health problems and doesn't need any outside interference including medical care.

3) Un-kept, dirty home creating unsanitary living conditions and increased risks of accidents for loved one including falling due to caregiver's poor housekeeping, messy habits, or laziness.

4) Unexplained bruises, scratches, sores, or wounds on your loved one that may be result of restraining, rough handling by caregiver, unreported falls or force feeding.

5) Poor personal hygiene noticeable by loved one wearing dirty clothing, body odor, un-washed or un-kept hair, un-trimmed nails or smelling of urine or feces.

6) Pressure sores developed on your loved one due to caregiver confining to bed or chair for extended periods, not changing diapers when soiled, or if immobile not turning or positioning properly in bed.

7) Your loved one has signs of dehydration and malnutrition including weakness, weight loss, low urine output, dry mouth, or cracked lips caused by caregiver withholding adequate food and fluids or even using as form of punishment.

8) Your loved one has become incontinent due to caregiver not assisting or allowing them to visit bathroom as needed and on regular basis.

9) Pre-poured medications in pill boxes or in prescription containers are not given to your loved one at scheduled time/days or at all and not refilled when empty due to irresponsible caregiver.

10) Your love one is more withdrawn and depressed caused by caregiver isolating from family and friends and restricting from participation in social activities outside the home.

11) Your loved one is anxious, agitated or unwilling to talk at all to family due to caregiver disparaging them, fear of abandonment, threatening punishment or even nursing home placement.

12) Unexplained missing personal items due to caregiver stealing loved one's property such as money, jewelry, or clothing and caregiver has either with or without permission access to your loved one's bank and credit card accounts.

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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