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Is your parent the victim of abuse or neglect?


If your parent’s health is failing, the last thing you want to think about is someone making the situation worse by hurting them. Tragically, too many older adults become victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of those tasked with providing care.

If your parent receives care in a nursing care facility or from someone at home, you should know what to look for and how to protect your loved one from possible abuse.

Signs of elder abuse and neglect

Whether you visit, video chat or speak with your parent on the phone, keep an eye out for the following signs that someone is mistreating them:

  • Unexplained bruises
  • A heightened sense of fear and anxiety
  • Bedsores
  • Poor hygiene
  • Overmedication
  • Sudden, unexpected declines in their physical or mental health
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Agitation
  • Restraint marks
  • Missing medical aids, like a walker, glasses or a wheelchair

If you notice these or other troubling signs, talk to your parent. Keep diligent notes of your concerns and consider filing a complaint to have authorities conduct an investigation.

Protecting your parent

To prevent abuse from occurring, help your parent find a safe, qualified care provider. Look online for reviews and conduct searches to determine if a provider has ever been reported or cited for abuse or neglect.

If a relative is caring for your parent, make sure they understand their duties and responsibilities in their role.

You can also prevent abuse by keeping in regular contact with your parent. Often, abusers target people without close relationships because it can be easier to get away with misconduct. When you call or visit frequently, you can also identify suspicious behaviors before they become worse.

If you suspect abuse or neglect has already happened, you can approach facility administrators to file a complaint. You can also report misconduct to state or federal agencies and file a legal claim seeking damages.

Finally, you should remove a parent from an unsafe environment. This could mean relocating them to a new facility or hiring someone else to provide care. Doing so as soon as possible can be crucial in protecting your parent from an abusive party.