Elder Abuse: From Risk Factors to Prevention

The problem of elder abuse and neglect is one that every family must be on the lookout for. Whether  your loved one is being cared for at home by another family member, by a professional caregiver or if your loved one is in an assisted living facility, neglect and/or abuse are real possibilities. Understanding the signs of elder abuse and neglect and knowing what to do to prevent or stop abuse can help to keep your loved one safe.

What is Elder Abuse?

The U.S. Administration on Aging defines elder abuse as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.” All 50 states have passed laws defining elder abuse and seeking to prevent cases of elder abuse in their jurisdiction. With each state defining abuse differently, it is important to know how your state defines elder abuse.

The type of abuse commonly inflicted on the elderly can be categorized into seven main areas.

  • Physical abuse is exactly how it sounds; inflicting physical pain or injury.
  • Exploitation refers to the misuse of money, property or assets.
  • Abandonment occurs when a caregiver stops providing care for an elderly person.
  • Neglect is the failure to provide a home, food, health care, or other protection for a senior.
  • Sexual abuse is characterized by non-consensual sexual contact.
  • Emotional abuse is caused by inflicting pain through verbal and nonverbal acts.
  • Self-neglect occurs when a senior fails to take care of their personal needs, health or safety.

Risk Factors of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can be hard for families to accept. You have chosen a caregiver or facility you believe will provide the best care for your loved one. No one wants to think that abuse can happen or that the person they trusted to provide care has done something unthinkable. Even when you are faced with the signs, it can be tempting to write off bruises as accidents. Knowing the risk factors for elder abuse can help you to know when to raise the warning flag.

Some common risk factors for elder abuse include:

  • Isolation. When a senior has limited access to the outside world and little contact with friends or family it is easy for an abuse to take place.
  • Substance Abuse. The use of alcohol or drugs by a caregiver can make him or her more likely to become abusive to a senior.
  • Violence. A family with a history of violence, especially between spouses, is more likely to experience elder abuse.
  • Declining Physical and/or Cognitive Health. When a senior becomes ill or has trouble with Alzheimer’s or dementia the risk for elder abuse goes up.
  • Dependence and Shared Living Arrangements. When the caregiver and senior live together and/or when the caregiver is dependent on the senior for financial support the risk increases.
  • Stress. Caregivers facing stress at work and/or home can often become abusive. Finding regular respite care for caregivers helps to prevent abuse.

How to Identify Elder Abuse

What are the warning signs that a loved one maybe coping with abuse? The warning signs are many and vary depending on the type of abuse suspected. If you believe your loved one is being physically abused, look for bruises on the arms or neck, unexplained injuries and/or a refusal to seek medical help for injuries. If you see marks on the wrists and/or ankles, this is a warning sign that your loved one is being restrained. If the caregiver is dismissive of your questions about injuries or bruises, this is also a warning sign of elder abuse.

When seniors are experiencing emotional abuse, it is common to find them unresponsive to questions, fearful or suspicious, unwilling to go to social outings, and to experience sudden unexplained changes in behavior. Exploitation abuse can be more difficult to identify unless you have access to your loved one’s financial accounts. Large withdrawals, unusual ATM activity, sudden increases in credit card debt, or forged checks are the most common signs a senior is being exploited.

Elder neglect manifests itself in a wide range of ways. Seniors who are being neglected will often have poor hygiene and eating habits. Loss of weight, pressure sores, sunken eyes, and dirty clothes are common signs of elder neglect. If a caregiver is not providing medications, access to eyeglasses, teeth or hearing aids, these are also signs of neglect.

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

Preventing elder abuse falls to the family and friends of seniors. If you suspect abuse or are concerned that a caregiver may be nearing the end of his or her reserve of patience, it’s ok to step in. Ask the senior if he or she is ok or is fearful. Pull the caregiver aside and offer assistance. Find respite care services for the caregiver so he or she can get away for a few hours each week to rest and recharge.

Helping your loved one to get to favorite activities, out to lunch, to the library, or other locations is an easy way to prevent abuse. Social outings can help seniors to feel loved and valuable. Your loved one is more likely to confide in you if they believe you will be there to help them. Taking your loved one on outings also provides relief for the caregiver so he or she can have some alone time. The more people your loved one interacts with the more people there are to notice changes in your loved one’s demeanor, physical appearance and emotional state.

If you fear a loved one, friend or neighbor is being abused or neglected, please don’t hesitate to notify the proper authorities. Every state has an agency whose main responsibility is responding to the needs of the elderly. You can find more information regarding your state’s agency here.

If you suspect someone is in immediate danger, please call 9 1 1.

About The Author

Visiting Angels was established in 1991 in Baltimore as an independent agency caring for seniors in their homes.  Today, Visiting Angels agencies employ only experienced caregivers and conduct the most comprehensive background screenings to ensure that their caregivers meet or exceed the company’s high standards.  For companion care, Alzheimer’s care, Dementia care and the country’s best palliative care program make Visiting Angels your choice in home care services.  For more information about our elder care services or to find a location near you, please visit www.VisitingAngels.com.


Safe, Easy Gardening Tips and Tools for Seniors

As a senior citizen, you know how important is to remain active. Being able to go outside to enjoy the fresh air is a great feeling, and a great way to get your daily dose of the great outdoors is gardening. Gardening has many unexpected health benefits and has been known to relieve stress, act as a moderate form of exercise, and even help to cope with depression! While it has a number of great benefits, tending to a garden can put a lot of stress on the body, particularly as we age. Thankfully, there are a lot of great tools and gadgets that make gardening a safe and fun activity for people of all ages!


  • Choose plants wisely. Choosing plants that are easy to maintain and able to withstand a variety of conditions is essential for an easy gardening experience. This ultimately makes gardening less strenuous overall. Plants that require the least amount of attention and maintenance include French Lavender, which is a beautiful, fragrant, and low maintenance plant that doesn’t require much water.
  • Use perennials instead of annuals. Planting perennials is recommended because you won’t have to worry about planting more of the same plant each year. If they are properly cared for throughout the season, they will grow back the following year.
  • Think about timing. Timing is important when it comes to gardening. Work early in the morning or later in the evening because these times tend to be cooler and you’ll avoid the harsh summer heat. Also make sure to work in shade as much as possible during a sunny day, and take breaks as you feel necessary to prevent overheating.
  • Garden small. For a more manageable project, try container gardening, which is essentially planting into a pot or a container of your choice. This is beneficial for the elderly especially because the garden can be placed virtually anywhere, and easily accessible at all times. Remember to use light weight containers for extra-easy handling.


  • Small Seat. Use a stool or a chair that will save your legs from having to squat down and plant.
  • Tape Seed. This handy tape is made from biodegradable paper and contains seeds that are already perfectly spaced out, saving you time and energy.
  • Marked Tools. Make the handles of each gardening tool stand out from each other for easy identification. Wrapping colored tape around them is an easy solution.
  • Handle Grips. Use tools that are lightweight with longer handles that have some sort of grip to them. This will help prevent arm, shoulder, and back injuries and make use easier for those with arthritis.
  • Garden Caddy. Using a garden caddy with wheels makes it easier to store tools and transport them from one area to another. Make sure the caddy is lightweight and easy to carry or push through grass and dirt.
  • Watering Gear. Use a hose to water your plants to avoid carrying around a heavy watering can, which can cause injury to the back, arms and shoulders. Find a hose head that has a number of settings to make watering as simple as possible.

Whether in a backyard or window boxes at a nursing home, senior citizens of all walks of life can take part in the activity of gardening this season safely and effectively. Always remember to know your limit and stop when you get tired, but most of all, have fun and enjoy all the benefits of gardening!

About the Author

Ruth Folger Weiss is a blogger for West Gate Hills Rehab, a Baltimore, MD nursing home and senior care center.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

According to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), almost 90% of senior homeowners would prefer to age in the familiarity and comfort of their own homes.  This is not surprising, as many seniors have built their lives around their home.  Fortunately, a majority of seniors have also built equity in their homes, having diligently paid their mortgage every month for the last few decades.  Because of this, many seniors over the age of 62 will be eligible for a retirement planning loan product called a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages have already helped thousands of seniors across the country to continue living in their homes for the rest of their lives, all while receiving their equity without having to pay a monthly mortgage payment, as long as all loan terms are met.  Reverse mortgages have been gaining popularity in the last half century, but for many years before, senior homeowners had a hard time finding the solution that would let them access their home’s equity while still living there.

The History of Reverse Mortgages

Before reverse mortgages were first offered in 1961, senior homeowners had very few options if they wanted to access their equity.  Liquidating equity usually meant having to sell the home and move out, thus defeating the purpose of aging in place.  However, the idea of a loan for this purpose gained traction at a congressional meeting in 1969, when the Senate Committee on Aging expressed interest in “an actuarial mortgage plan that would allow homeowners to stay in their homes while enjoying their saved home equity.”

Interest in this product only continued to grow.  In 1987, Congress passed an insurance bill called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Demonstration, which became the reverse mortgage pilot program.  The following year, President Ronald Reagan signed the Reverse Mortgage Bill into law.

What is a Reverse Mortgage Today?

Since then, reverse mortgages have continued to evolve.  There are multiple kinds of reverse mortgages, including the federally-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).  There is also the HECM for Purchase, which is the version that helps senior homeowners accomplish, in just one transaction, the closing of a reverse mortgage along with the purchase of a new home that is more suited to their needs.

Today, when a borrower works with a reputable reverse mortgage lender to close a loan, they are provided with a personal reverse mortgage professional to cater to their needs in the loan process.  This expert will use their experience to serve as a knowledgeable resource who will ensure that the reverse mortgage process goes smoothly.  For many senior homeowners, reverse mortgages of today are providing them with a solid retirement.

Who is Right for a Reverse Mortgage?

Reverse mortgages are designed for senior homeowners ages 62 years and older who own their home and live there as their primary residence.  Although it may not be right for everyone, reverse mortgages can be the perfect solution for many.  Is a reverse mortgage right for you?  It may be if:


  • You want to access your equity while aging in your home
  • You plan to live in your home as your primary residence
  • You want to pay off your existing mortgage, your credit card bills, or any medical expenses
  • You want to eliminate a monthly mortgage payment
  • You need to tap into your equity now
  • You want to continue your financial independence
  • You want a line of credit for emergencies
  • You are confident in your ability to continue payments of property taxes and homeowners insurance

With all the benefits a reverse mortgage offers, it is not hard to see why this loan product has grown so popular since its beginnings in the early 1960′s.  To learn if a reverse mortgage would be right for you, it is most helpful to speak with a reverse mortgage professional.  These experts can answer questions you have that are particular to your situation.  If you determine a reverse mortgage is right for you, you can begin to take advantage of a loan product that is already helping many senior homeowners achieve a financially comfortable retirement.


“The History of the Reverse Mortgage.”  www.AAG.com.  NP.  ND.  Web.  20 July 2015.  https://www.aag.com/news/history-reverse-mortgage

Lim, Alberta.  “Debunking Myths about Reverse Mortgages.”  Equities.com.  18 June 2015.  NP.  Web.  1 July 2015.  http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/personal-finance/real-estate/debunking-myths-about-reverse-mortgages

“What is a Reverse Mortgage?”  FamilyMoneyValues.com.  19 March 2015.  NP.  Web.  1 July 2015.  http://blog.familymoneyvalues.com/2015/03/what-is-a-reverse-mortgage/

“The Truth About Reverse Mortgages.”  Thousandnaire.com.  ND.  NP.  Web.  1 July 2015.  http://www.thousandaire.com/the-truth-about-reverse-mortgages/

“Do I Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?  The Questions You Should Ask and the Requirements You Need to Know.”  Homefinder.com.  ND.  NP.  Web.  1 July 2015.  http://www.homefinder.com/research/reverse-mortgage-requirements

About American Advisors Group

American Advisors Group is the nation’s leader in reverse mortgage lending, and is dedicated to helping American seniors convert a portion of their home equity, a largely untapped asset, to help fund their retirement needs.  To check how much you may receive from a reverse mortgage, visit https://www.aag.com/reverse-mortgage-calculator/ for the American Advisors Group Reverse Mortgage Calculator.

American Advisors Group holds an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, has a 97% customer satisfaction rating and is a proud member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). To learn more about American Advisors Group and reverse mortgages, please visit the company’s website at www.aag.com.

Author’s Bio

Alberta Lim is the Digital Content Writer for American Advisors Group, the #1 Reverse Mortgage company in the nation. Writing content for the company’s website, news and updates, and newsletters, plus being surrounded by the top Reverse Mortgage Professionals in the industry, means that she is no stranger to Senior Retirement Planning and Living.