Four leaves in a line, red, yellow, and green.

Seniors and Domestic Violence

By Kathryn Larlee, J.D.

October can be so beautiful. Leaves in full color, warm sweaters, delicious soups, apples and pumpkin spice in almost everything. For some, however, there is little to celebrate. Some folks are hurting or struggling with abuse.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a purple ribbon designates domestic violence awareness. Seniors face unique challenges when domestic violence happens to them. If an older person experiences abuse these factors increase the risks and the consequences.

  1. Higher risk of falls;
  2. Greater severity of injury;
  3. Slower healing and recovery;
  4. Worse outcomes.

Many older people will not report abuse, whether it is physical, emotional, or financial.  The reasons are varied. They are dependent on the abuser. The abuser is a spouse with dementia. They are embarrassed. They are confused. Their confusion is compounded by early dementia or illness.

There is hope. There is much you can do to help a person leave the darkness and isolation of abuse. There are resources available to help a person return to an enjoyment of the beauty of the seasons and life.

Learn to recognize five signs of elder abuse from Domestic Shelters.

  1. Unexplained bruises or other injuries.
  2. Withdrawal from activities he/she enjoyed, or sudden changes in alertness or unusual depression.
  3. Sudden changes in financial situation.
  4. Poor hygiene, bedsores, unusual weight loss or unattended medical needs.
  5. Belittling, threats, or frequent arguments with a caregiver.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, call 911 if there is immediate danger. You can also contact Adult Protective Services in Michigan at 855-444-3911.


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