Physical Abuse of Elders

Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Michigan law defines "abuse" to mean: "harm or threatened harm to an adult's health or welfare caused by another person. Abuse includes, but is not limited to, non-accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, or maltreatment."

In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind can also be considered physical abuse.

Signs of physical abuse include but are not limited to:

  • bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks;
  • bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures;
  • open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing;
  • sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries/bleeding;
  • broken eyeglasses/frames, 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 mistreated;
  • an elder's sudden change in behavior; and
  • the caregiver's refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone.

How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help if you Suspect Physical Abuse

Elder law attorneys and advocates work with — and fight back for — seniors suffering from physical abuse and their families in a number of ways, including:

  • taking the necessary steps to immediately stop any further abuse;
  • removing any offending party from any position that helped them commit the abuse (i.e. agent, joint owner, conservator, etc);
  • appointing someone to assist with the senior's needs, care and treatment (i.e. power of attorney, guardian, conservator, etc);
  • developing a Care Plan for the senior and a plan to finance their care costs; and
  • seeking criminal remedies, where appropriate, against any offending party.

If you or an older loved one has been the victim of physical abuse, learn more about our elder rights advocacy services or contact Estate Planning & Elder Law Services for a free consultation about your concerns.