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Types & Signs of Abuse

Worried Physical abuse is any physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment. Physical abuse may include striking (with or without an object), beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse.

 Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include but are not limited to:

  • bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations and rope marks
  • bone and skull fractures
  • open wounds and untreated injuries in various stages of healing
  • sprains, dislocations and internal injuries/bleeding
  • broken eyeglasses, physical signs of being subjected to punishment and signs of being restrained
  • laboratory findings of medication overdose or under-utilization of prescribed drugs
  • an elder’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked or otherwise mistreated
  • an elder’s sudden change in behavior
  • the caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone

Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, including unwanted touching and all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity and sexually explicit photographing.

Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse include but are not limited to:

  • bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
  • unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • an elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped

Emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of anguish, pain or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. It includes verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation and harassment. In addition, other examples include: treating an older person like an infant; isolating an elderly person from his/her family, friends, or regular activities; forced social isolation and giving an older person the “silent treatment.”

Signs and symptoms of emotional/psychological abuse include but are not limited to:

  • being upset or agitated
  • being extremely withdrawn and non-communicative or non-responsive
  • unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia (e.g., sucking, biting, rocking)
  • an elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated

Neglect is the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elder, including food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety and other essentials included in an implied or agreed upon responsibility to an elder. Neglect may also include failure of a person who has fiduciary responsibilities for an elder (e.g., pay for necessary home care services).

iStock_000026397819_MediumSigns and symptoms of neglect include but are not limited to:

  • dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bedsores or poor personal hygiene
  • unattended or untreated health problems
  • hazardous or unsafe living conditions/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water)
  • unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
  • an elder’s report of being mistreated

Ohio Revised Code outlines laws pertaining to failure to provide for a functionally impaired adult in ORC 2903.13.


Self-neglect is characterized as the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health or safety. Self-neglect generally manifests itself in an older person as a refusal or failure to provide himself/herself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medication (when indicated) and safety precautions because of a physical or mental handicap. Self-neglect excludes a situation in which a mentally competent older person, who understands the consequences of his/her decisions, makes a conscious and voluntary decision to engage in acts that threaten his/her health or safety as a matter of personal choice.

Signs and symptoms of self-neglect include but are not limited to:

  • dehydration, malnutrition, untreated or improperly attended medical conditions and poor personal hygiene
  • hazardous or unsafe living conditions/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no indoor plumbing, no heat, no running water)
  • unsanitary or unclean living quarters (e.g., animal/insect infestation, no functioning toilet, fecal/urine smell)
  • inappropriate and/or inadequate clothing, lack of the necessary medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures)
  • grossly inadequate housing or homelessness

Abandonment is the desertion by an individual who has assumed responsibility for providing care or has physical custody of an elderly person.

Signs and symptoms of abandonment include but are not limited to:

  • the desertion of an elder at a hospital, a nursing facility or other similar institution
  • the desertion of an elder at a shopping center or other public location
  • an elder’s own report of being abandoned

Financial or material exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets, such as cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission; forging a signature; misusing or stealing money or possessions; coercing or deceiving an older person into signing any document (e.g., contracts or will); and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship or power of attorney.

iStock_000010034855_FullSigns and symptoms of financial or material exploitation include but are not limited to:

  • sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder
  • the inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card
  • unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds using the elder’s ATM card
  • abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources
  • discovery of an elder’s signature forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions
  • sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder’s affairs and possessions
  • unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
  • the provision of services that are not necessary
  • an elder’s report of financial exploitation