What are the signs of elder abuse, and how can you help?

Almost half a million people aged over 65 will experience some form of abuse or neglect. The abuse may happen in one incident or happen over a period of time – but it is never acceptable. For World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June, learn the signs of elder abuse and how you can help.

Types of abuse

Abuse can take many forms, which can make it hard to spot.

Abuse can be:

  • Physical.
  • Sexual.
  • Financial.
  • Neglect (including self-neglect).
  • Psychological or emotional.
  • Discriminatory.
  • Modern slavery.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Organisational abuse (such as in a care home or hospital, or in the person’s own home).

Learn more about the different types of abuse.

Signs of abuse

There are many different signs of abuse and unfortunately people often experience more than one form of abuse at a time. If the older person is being coerced it can be particularly difficult for them to tell you if they are experiencing abuse. If you are worried about someone, always report it (scroll down below for details).

Some signs of abuse could include:

  • Cuts and bruises on the older person.
  • Loss of weight or dehydration without illness-related cause.
  • Dirt, faecal or urine smell in the older person’s home.
  • The older person is inadequately clothed.
  • Unexplained disappearances of money or valuable possessions.
  • Isolation of the older person from friends and family.
  • Abrupt changes to or the sudden creation of wills.
  • Hesitation to talk openly.
  • Being extremely withdrawn and non-communicative.

Learn more about the signs of abuse.

Concerned about an adult?

The best way to protect someone from abuse, is to tell someone.

Report abuse or neglect:

Call Health and Social Care Connect on 0345 60 80 191

Alternatively you can:

Always dial 999 if you think someone is in immediate danger.

Volunteer to support older people who have been through abuse

Sussex Elder Abuse Recovery Service (Hourglass) aims to help older victims of abuse recover from their experiences and re-build their lives. It helps people find local social activities preventing them from staying isolated and helping to find new contacts and friendships for their future.

Volunteers get to know their clients and learn what they enjoy doing, so they can encourage them to try new activities, without having to take those first steps alone.

Like most services during the pandemic, it is currently providing telephone and remote support to people. However, they are planning for life after lockdown, when face-to-face meet ups can happen again. So please get in touch now.

Contact Gail Shanahan, Project Co-ordinator for an informal chat by calling: 07508 823975 or email: gailshanahan@wearehourglass.org