University of Illinois Extension

Molly Hofer
Extension Educator, Family Life
Cook County Unit
10244 South Vincennes Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
P: 773-233-2900
F: 773-233-9183

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect

Just as there are many types of abuse, there are also numerous signs or symptoms that abuse may be taking place. The following signs do not always indicate an abusive situation, but can be important clues to possible abuse or neglect.

Symptoms of an Abused Older Person

  • Unusual or unexplained injuries (cuts, bruises, burns)
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Pressure or bed sores
  • Confinement against will (tied to furniture or locked in room)
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without a medical cause
  • Fear
  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Visits to many doctors or hospitals
  • Strange and inconsistent explanations for injuries
  • Helplessness
  • Hesitation to talk openly

Symptoms of an Abuser

  • Verbally assaulting, threatening or insulting the older person
  • Concerned only with the older person's financial situation and not his or her health or well-being
  • Problems with alcohol or drug abuse
  • Not allowing the older person to speak for him- or herself
  • Blaming the older person
  • Attitudes of indifference or anger toward the older person
  • Socially isolating the older person from others