How to Spot the Signs of Elder Abuse

Senior woman experience elder abuse from a caregiver
Elder abuse is a common tragedy, but help at home is readily available.

While it goes without saying that mistreating an older adult is something that would never enter into the minds of most people, it’s a tragically common occurrence in the U.S. Elder abuse happens in many variations, from emotional to physical, and it impacts the most frail and vulnerable right here in our own communities.

Considering that elder abuse is, in many cases a voiceless problem, it’s crucial for friends and family members of older adults to learn how to recognize the signs of elder abuse to be able to protect their loved ones, neighbors, and friends. As one of the top home care agencies in Burbank and the surrounding areas, we have pulled together a few of the warning signs that may indicate elder abuse.

Physical Abuse:

  • Signs of injury such as bruises, scars, or welts, especially if they are seen symmetrically on both sides of the person’s body or have a defined shape
  • Broken bones or sprains
  • Drug overdoses or regularly missed medications
  • Cracked or broken eyeglasses
  • Signs of being restrained, like bruises or red marks on the wrists
  • Caregivers refusing to let the senior be seen alone

Emotional Abuse:

  • Controlling behavior from the caregiver
  • Yelling at or threatening the older adult
  • Humiliating or ridiculing
  • Neglecting the older adult’s requests
  • Isolating the person from friends and relatives
  • Behavior that mimics dementia, including rocking, sucking, or muttering to himself or herself


  • Dramatic loss of weight or malnutrition
  • Physical problems, such as bed sores, that have not been addressed
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Neglected hygiene
  • Inappropriate clothing or covering for the weather
  • Unsafe living conditions (no running water or heat; faulty electrical wiring, other fire threats)
  • Periods of time without a qualified caregiver
  • Abandonment of the older person at a public place

The early signs of elder abuse may be difficult to identify and could be perceived as symptoms of Alzheimer’s or increased frailty. Alternatively, a caregiver who is abusing the senior may justify signs of abuse with a reasonable explanation.

To help prevent abuse, make sure to call and visit loved ones frequently, sometimes unannounced, and be on the lookout for any changes in the older person’s personality or behavior. If any signs of elder abuse are noticed or suspected, they need to be reported immediately.

Happier Home Care can help families keep senior loved ones safe, happy, and healthy. As one of the preferred home care agencies in Burbank, Toluca Lake, the San Fernando Valley, and surrounding areas, we can provide in-home care services, including specialized Alzheimer’s care, to ensure that older adults are safe and well cared for.

Contact us at 818-651-6679 for a free in-home consultation to learn how we can help your loved one with top-rated home care. Please see our full service area.