4 min read

How To Spot Elder Abuse

How To Spot Elder Abuse

According to the National Institute of Aging, around one in 10 adults aged 60 and older experience a form of elder abuse, although many cases of this mistreatment go unreported. Elder abuse goes beyond just physical mistreatment; it can also include financial exploitation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. While rates of elder abuse are higher in institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the truth is seniors are susceptible to this abuse anywhere. Therefore, it’s important you are able to spot the signs of elder abuse and know how to take action to protect your loved ones.

Elder abuse can often be discovered at the financial level, which is considered a gateway to other forms of adult maltreatment. During a customer’s routine visit to a branch, tellers and bankers may notice uncharacteristic purchases at the account level or see that the person or caregiver bringing them to the bank is speaking on behalf of the elderly customer. Bruises, burns or red markings on exposed skin may be indicators of physical abuse.

Family members and other individuals close to a senior can also play a big role in spotting and reporting elder abuse. Here’s an overview of the types of elder abuse and how to report it.

Types of Elder Abuse

Similar to other types of abuse, the abuser’s purpose is to gain power and control over their victim. This can be done by misleading other family members regarding the elder’s condition or excluding the victim from family. By isolating the victim, the abuser can control what the elder does and who they see. The abuser may also withhold access to communications like phone or email.

Emotional abuse happens when the abuser yells at, insults and degrades the victim, leaving the elder feeling vulnerable. The abuser will target those vulnerabilities and may refuse transportation or deny food, heat, care or medication. The abuser may threaten to leave or commit suicide, display or threaten with weapons, or may abuse pets. Using financial exploitation, by stealing money or possessions or abusing power of attorney or conservatorship, is an effective way abusers take power and control over the elderly.

Signs of elder abuse include physical signs (like malnourishment, skin markings), emotional signs (like anxiety, confusion) and financial signs (unexplained transactions and loss of money).

What You Can Do

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on June 15 each year. In honor of this day, take the time to learn the signs of elder abuse. If someone you know exhibits signs of abuse, use the following steps to focus on the victim’s safety:

Other organizations you can work collaboratively with to help a victim of elder abuse include law enforcement agencies, adult protective services, aging network professionals, domestic violence and/or sexual assault advocates, and health care providers.

No one is exempt from abuse. It can happen to anyone. Know the signs and be prepared.

*Please Note: There are external links included in this article that will take you to a website that Bankers Trust does not control. Bankers Trust has provided these links for your convenience, but does not endorse and is not responsible for the content, links, privacy policy, or security policy of external websites. 



AVP, Fraud and Security Supervisor Email Amy

Amy Berger is AVP, Fraud and Security Supervisor at Bankers Trust. She joined the bank in 2012 and has held various roles in our branches before joining the Financial Intelligence team. Amy's work focuses on preventing fraud, protecting physical security, and business continuity. She holds her Certified Community Bank Security Officer (CCBSO), Certified AML and Fraud Professional (CAFP), Associate Business Continuity Professional (ABCP), and Certified Banking Business Continuity Professional (CBBCP) designations.

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