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Perpetrators of elder abuse may be closer than you think

When people think about financial abuse that targets seniors, they often imagine digital spam and telemarketing scams. As a result, family members may not recognize that a parent or other elderly loved one may be at risk of abuse by someone they know. 

Tragically, statistics show that about 60 percent of abuse and neglect cases involve a family member.  

Identifying abuse

Family members who abuse an older adult may live with the victim. They may even be the person's caretaker. Because of a family abuser's role and proximity to the victim, it can be easy for them to do things like isolate the victim, withhold medication or steal money without someone looking over their shoulder.

As such, it can be difficult to identify abuse - but it is not impossible.

Some signs that a family member is abusing an older adult include:

  • The abuser restricting visits or preventing others from being alone with the victim
  • The victim displaying signs of increasing fear or anxiety
  • Bruises, cuts and other physical injuries consistent with restraints, falls or attacks
  • A victim becoming withdrawn or depressed without explanation
  • Sharp declines in the victim's physical, emotional or mental health
  • Poor hygiene
  • Overdue bills, repossession of property or threats of eviction, which can signify that the older adult is the victim of financial misconduct

Keeping an eye out for these and any other unusual or troubling issues can be critical in identifying elder abuse by a family member.

Reporting the abuse

If you are worried that someone you know is abusing your loved one, you may not know what to do. After all, the perpetrator could be part of your family, too. 

While it can be upsetting to report someone you know and accuse them of abuse, doing so can stop the abuse and neglect of which he or she is responsible. 

You can file an anonymous report with Colorado Adult Protective Services. Even if you suspect something is wrong but are unsure of the extent of possible abuse, you can file a report, and APS will investigate.

Abuse by a family member can result in devastating physical, emotional and financial damages for which a perpetrator can be liable. Knowing the signs and taking action can be critical in protecting someone in need of help.

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