Key Issues

Evidence of Possible Elder Abuse

Elder abuse has many variations and its victims may not be readily identifiable when they are involved in court proceedings. Elder abuse can be an underlying concern for cases heard in any division of the court (e.g., traffic, domestic violence, probate, family, and criminal). An elderly victim of abuse may not always be the alleged victim in a case; he or she could appear in court as a defendant or respondent, a plaintiff or petitioner, a witness, or a juror.

The following "red flags" can help judges, court staff, attorneys and others identify persons who may be experiencing elder abuse and neglect.

Signs of Physical or Sexual Abuse

  • Inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, and burns
  • Elder person appears to be afraid of the caregiver
  • Elder person changes to different doctors

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Elder person "voluntarily" giving inappropriate financial reimbursement for needed care and companionship
  • Elder person lacks amenities he or she should be able to afford
  • Caregiver has control of elder's money but is failing to provide for elder's needs
  • Elder has signed property transfers but is unable to comprehend the transaction (e.g., medical and/or financial power of attorney, new will)
  • Sudden changes in elder person's financial status
  • Elder person changes to a different lawyer

Signs of Psychological Abuse

  • Caregiver isolates the elder person
  • Caregiver is aggressive, controlling, or uncaring toward the elder person

Signs of Neglect

  • Elder person lacks basic hygiene
  • Elder person lacks medical aids (e.g., glasses, walker, hearing aid, medications)
  • Elder person hoards possessions and food
  • Bed-bound person left without care
  • Person with dementia left without care

Resources