Warning Signs of Elder Abuse and Legal Options for Your Loved One By Charles T. Hoge on March 08, 2024

Granddaughter looking at her elderly grandfather who seems aloof

Suspecting that your loved one is the victim of elder abuse can be earth-shattering, especially when that abuse comes at the hands of someone who is paid to be a trusted caregiver. Far too often, family members brush aside signs of abuse because they do not want to believe that their father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother is being harmed.

Correctly spotting symptoms of abuse can help end the vicious cycle and lead to a winning personal injury lawsuit or elder abuse claim. In this blog post, I will detail various types of elder abuse and the legal options available to San Diego County families.

Physical Abuse of Seniors Often Results in These Signs

Physical abuse is often the most obvious sign of harm. Your family member’s caregiver or even your family member themselves may try to say that physical signs of abuse happened naturally. While this is possible, it is often a false explanation that is made to avoid trouble.

The most common signs of physical senior abuse include:

  • Unexplained bruising or welts
  • Skin burns
  • Pressure marks
  • Head injuries
  • Broken bones

Senior Abuse Can Frequently Be Emotional in Nature

Your family member does not need to have a single sign of physical abuse to have suffered from illegal mistreatment. In fact, emotional abuse can often be more insidious than physical abuse since it can lead to more long-lasting ramifications and it can be harder to immediately identify. Emotional abuse can refer to verbal attacks on your family member or any other type of psychological mistreatment.

If your loved one displays any of the following behaviors, they may be a victim of emotional abuse:

  • A fear of speaking their mind
  • A sudden desire to isolate from others
  • Spikes in anxiety, anger, or depression
  • A tendency to rock back and forth while seated


Keep This in Mind:

Elder Abuse Is Woefully Underreported

According to the California Department of Aging, our state sees over 200,000 elder abuse cases reported each year.

Even this staggeringly high number is believed to be the result of underreporting.

Do not let your loved one suffer from abuse without intervening and exploring all your legal options. I offer free consultations, allowing you to speak with a proven San Diego-based attorney about your elder abuse case at absolutely no financial risk.



Elderly man awake and distraught in a dark room in the middle of the night

Sexual Abuse of the Elderly Tragically Does Occur

There are other kinds of elder abuse beyond physical and psychological harm noted above. The possibility of the beloved senior in your life being victimized by a sexual predator can be unimaginable. In fact, the idea can be so horrifying that some victim’s family members end up ignoring obvious signs due to a desire to not accept the truth.

If your elderly loved one is displaying any of the following behaviors, you may have to face the fact that they are suffering from sexual abuse:

  • An unexplained emergence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Bleeding, irritation, or pain on their genitals
  • Bruising on their genitals or the areas around them, like the thighs

Financial Abuse Often Flies Under the Radar

Some cunning and predatory caregivers avoid all physical or emotional mistreatment so that they can get away with financial abuse of the senior under their charge. Because this type of abuse can go unnoticed for extended periods of time, not stopping it can result in your loved one having all of their bank accounts drained.

Be on the lookout for these signs of financial abuse and manipulation:

  • The changing of wills or trusts
  • Attempts at identity theft
  • Missing credit cards
  • Unexplained transactions or subscriptions
  • Lost access to financial records
  • Large sums of money missing

Types of Compensation in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

If your loved one has survived their abuse, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their economic and non-economic losses. If they tragically passed away, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek both the closure and compensation you and your family need to move forward.

Depending on the specifics of your family member’s suffering, your lawyer can seek compensation in the following categories and more:

  • Burial expenses
  • Cost of changing nursing homes
  • Funeral expenses
  • Interest on lost investments
  • Living expenses
  • Lost companionship
  • Medical bills
  • Mental health counseling
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Property reimbursement

If any of the elder abuse signs I’ve discussed on this page sound familiar, reach out to my San Diego law office for help.


Elderly woman in a wheelchair alone in her room at a nursing home

It Is Also Important to Identify Signs of Neglect

For a winning lawsuit, we do not need to establish that the defendant had any malice behind their actions. In fact, your attorney can win a lawsuit by demonstrating that, more likely than not, negligent behavior on behalf of someone who had a duty to care for your loved one led to quantifiable harm.

Signs of elder neglect include:

  • Pressure ulcers or bedsores
  • Lack of adequate food or hydration
  • An absence of basic hygiene
  • Missing dentures, medications, walkers, or hearing aids
  • A lack of heat or plumbing

Neglect Extends to the Upkeep and Maintenance of an Assisted Living Facility

When a nursing home has noticeable issues with cleanliness or maintenance, the property owner could be held liable for accidents related to unsafe conditions. This is known as a premises liability lawsuit. It covers everything from bad lighting to broken steps and lack of bannisters or handrails.

If your loved one experienced injuries in a slip, trip, or fall accident while at the nursing home, your personal injury lawyer can file a claim against the owner of the property for their negligence in maintaining the facility.

Abusive Caregivers Often Behave In Certain Ways

So far, I’ve detailed various nursing home abuse signs and symptoms to look for when evaluating a victim. It can also be wise to pay extra close attention to the caregivers in charge of your family member, as certain behaviors can be clues to existing elder abuse, if not outright abuse.

These red flag behaviors include:

  • Aggressive or demeaning behavior toward your loved one
  • Providing conflicting explanations of physical injuries
  • Restricting your family member from seeing visitors one-on-one
  • Referring to the elder as a burden on their lives

Request Your Free Consultation

With a Skilled San Diego Attorney

I have been a practicing attorney for approximately 40 years, since earning my law degree from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 1983. Throughout my legal career, I have earned a vast array of accolades for providing vigorous representation to victims and their families throughout San Diego. Among these honors, I was named to The Top Attorneys of North America in 2019.

Remember: You Pay Nothing Unless Your Elder Abuse Lawyer Wins Your Case

If you decided to move forward with your nursing home or elder abuse lawsuit, your case will be handled on a contingency basis. This means you will not have to pay any hourly attorney’s fees and that your lawyer will only get paid if they win your case.



Charles T. Hoge

About Charles T. Hoge
Charles T. Hoge has practiced law since 1983. He opened his own firm in Downtown La Jolla in 2016. The Hoge Law Firm has been recognized by both U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers as a leading practice for commercial litigation and employment law.

Read Mr. Hoge's Full Bio | All Posts by Mr. Hoge

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