Your loved ones need a lot more help as they grow older, but many may not realize just how much help. Millions of older adults experience abuse, but the same conditions that put them in a vulnerable place may also make it hard for them to ask for support.

10% of people over the age of 60 have experienced elder abuse, but estimates say authorities likely only hear about one in 14 cases. Sometimes removal from society and being at-risk for weakened mental states can contribute significantly to the chance an elder suffers from abuse and also make reporting an issue. You may have to step in on their behalf, which starts by looking for the signs.

Raising red flags

Abuse can take many forms and the symptoms could cover a wide range, depending on the victim:

  • Unexplained emotions: When your loved one begins acting abnormally, it could be a sign of mistreatment. As reactions become increased, more erratic or centered around a particular person, it may be time to start asking questions. Increased levels of stress, unexplained crying and new-found fear could all point to emotional abuse.
  • Physical signals: Signs on the body are usually easier to identify, but may not always be in easy-to-spot locations. Look for unexplained bruises, welts or marks, but also watch for difficulty walking normally or avoiding sensitive areas.
  • Environmental indicators: Their surroundings may reveal just as much about their treatment as a person’s physical condition. Stains on the bed, broken eyeglasses or dirty clothes strewn about could all point to negligent care at the least and abuse at the worst.

The older your loved ones get, the more they’ll need your help. Be mindful of signs that tell you what they may not be able to, and you could be ready to get them the assistance they need.