Elder abuse warning signs: Here's what Michigan's Attorney General says you need to look for

Posted: 6:09 PM, May 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-17 18:09:39-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — They are the people who raised us and took care of us and now many senior citizens are being taken advantage of.

Michigan’s Attorney General filed multiple charges in 2 separate elder abuse cases just this month and today the consumer protection division held a seminar to help inform people on how to choose the best senior housing option for their loved ones and avoid becoming victims.

The 2 most common complaints the AG’s office investigates regarding senior living facilities are: emotional and physical abuse, financial exploitation.

To try and spot problems Attorney General Dana Nessel says taking multiple site tours is key.

“Tour the facility before you think about placing your loved one in a particular facility. Go there and go there during various different shifts,” says Nessel.

While there, pay attention to the details. Does the staff always knock before entering a residents room, do they address the residents by name. There is a multi-page check list for family members to go through.

Research the facility. Go to the states website to see if there have been complaints filed against the facility.

If you see something, report it.

“If they have concerns, let us know so that we can come in investigate and we can do something about it,” says Nessel.

Nessel launches a senior care task force in March and is working with the state Supreme Court to address issues with probate. This summer, she tells 7 Action News, she and members of the task force will be sitting in on probate court and taking detailed notes about what they see happening, so they can get to the bottom of the issues and address them.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living says there are warning signs to look out for when identifying elder abuse, neglect and exploitation:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, scratches, hair loss, abrasions, and burns
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, anxiety and unusual depression
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area from sexual abuse
  • Sudden changes in financial situations
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by staff
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person

How to spot potential problems:

  • Don’t make your visits predictable, visit at different times on different days
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, talk to staff.
  • Check for bedsores, unexplained bruises, and sensitivity to pain
  • Note the cleanliness of all the residents and the facility, including the bathroom
  • Check for weight loss and learn the signs of dehydration
  • Request a medication review
  • Keep a small journal for notes during and after visits
  • On each visit, have your photo taken with your loved one and date it
  • Report any suspected abuse immediately


  • Bureau of Health Services Abuse Hotline: 800-882-6006
  • Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc.:
  • Developmental Disabilities: 800-288-5923
  • Mental Illness: 800-288-5923
  • Attorney General 24-hour Health Care Fraud Hotline: 800-24-ABUSE (800-242-2873)
  • Notify the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHS), Adult Protective Services. Statewide 24-Hour Hotline: 855-444-3911