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Changes in behaviors can be a sign of elder abuse

This week, the world recognized World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in an effort to bring attention to the issue of physical, mental and financial abuse that too many seniors are victim to. As important as the global efforts to highlight the issue certainly are, stopping elder abuse is often stopped thanks to the efforts of one person who raises concerns.

As we noted in this article on our website, elder abuse is a very serious problem that often goes unreported. We note many reasons for this, from physician concerns about violating privacy and fears of retaliation by caregivers to the unfortunate reality of dementia and other mental disorders. However, it only takes one person to notice something off or troubling to shed light on an abusive situation.

Signs of neglect and abuse can often involve a change in a victim's habits, behaviors and attitude. These signs can be subtle, but those who are paying attention can look for things like fears of being touched, being jumpy around certain people, unexplained injuries and dramatic shifts in moods.

But there are other signs of abuse that may have nothing to do with a person's appearance or actions. For instance, one case of elder abuse was discovered after a UPS driver noticed a significant shift in deliveries to an elderly woman's home.

According to news reports, the driver had been delivering packages to the building in which the woman lived for three decades. In all that time, the driver said, there were only a handful of packages delivered to the elderly woman. Suddenly, however, the driver noticed that several packages were going to the woman's home on a daily basis. They evidently were coming from Botox suppliers, weight-loss supplement companies and online retailers. This, the driver noted, was highly unusual.

After the driver filed a complaint with the police, it was discovered that the elderly woman's financial accounts had been unlawfully accessed by her live-in caregiver, who was charged with felony theft.

This should remind readers that addressing elder abuse can be done by complete strangers and by just keeping an eye out for troubling behaviors or changes. While the national and international efforts to stop abuse are valuable, it can come down to the action of just one person.

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