Be Aware of Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse

Besides the obvious physical warning signs, changes in the senior’s personality or behavior may be a signal that a potential abuse problem may exist.

Be alert to sudden or unexplained physical or behavior changes

  1. Withdrawal from normal activities

  2. Unusual depression

  3. Sudden financial changes

  4. Bedsores that appear untended, festering or increasing in severity

  5. Poor hygiene

  6. Unusual weight loss

  7. Strained, tense or hesitant relationships with abuser and others 

Elder Abuse:

The Silent Crime Against Seniors

The U.S. Administration on Aging defines elder abuse as "the intentional or negligent act by a family member or caregiver that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an older adult." 

  1. Elders and people with disabilities are, as a group, at high risk for violence, abuse and exploitation.

  1. More than 5 million older adults are abused and victimized every year according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

  1. As the Senior population continues to increase, these numbers are also expected to dramatically increase.

Elder abuse is called “the silent crime” because the abuse usually happens in secret, behind closed doors and with no witnesses.  Only a small fraction of abuse of the elderly gets reported to authorities.

  1. Recent studies indicate that today, for every 1 case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation or self neglect that is reported to authorities, as many as 14 more cases of elder abuse are never reported. 

  1. Elder abuse does not happen just one time.  It is ongoing; and without intervention, elder abuse almost always escalates.

  1. Elder abuse is committed by both men and women, and it occurs ate every level of the social, racial, economic and educational spectrum.

  1. Most abuse of the elderly occurs in their own homes or the home of a family caregiver - not in institutions.  There tends to be more coverage about elder abuse in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities because they are licensed - and inspected - by state and federal regulatory agencies.

  1. Family members cause more than half of all reported abuse in later life. Shame, dependence on the abuser, fear of retribution, and isolation from the community are significant obstacles that discourage elders from reporting these crimes.


Don’t Ignore Your Concerns:

Elder Abuse Can Result In Premature Death

Because older victims usually have fewer support systems and reserves (physical, psychological, financial) the impact of abuse and neglect is intensified. 

Just one single incident of abuse or mistreatment of an older adult can easily to trigger a downward health spiral that can lead to the development of serious complicating illnesses, increased anxiety, loss of personal independence, depression and even death.

source: Ed Yazwik Post-Gazette (PA)

There Are 3 Basic Categories of Elder Abuse

Domestic Elder Abuse generally refers to any of several forms of maltreatment of an older person by someone who has a special relationship with the elder (a spouse, a sibling, a child, a friend, or a caregiver), that occur in the elder's home, or in the home of a caregiver.

Institutional Abuse generally refers to any of the above-mentioned forms of abuse that occur in residential facilities for older persons (e.g., assisted living or skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, foster homes, group homes, board and care facilities, adult day care centers). Perpetrators of institutional abuse usually are persons who have a legal or contractual obligation to provide elder victims with care and protection (e.g., paid caregivers, facility staff members, professionals).

Self-Neglect or Self-Abuse occurs when an older person fails to meet their own physical, psychological, and/or social needs. Often  the elder may have an undiagnosed and/or untreated mental health problem such as dementia. The problem may escalate when coupled with a physical impairment, social isolation, malnutrition, substance abuse, mental impairment, and/or limited financial recourses. In many cases self-neglecting Elder persons may resist intervention because their past experiences with intervention (voluntary or involuntary) have not been positive.

• Click here for the National Center on Elder Abuse's link to state elder abuse hotlines.

• The National Clearninghouse on Abuse in Later Life has useful resources for preventing elder abuse.

• The Foundation Aiding The Elderly serves as a voice for patients and to bring about national reforms.

• The Administration on Aging website is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of a wide variety of topics, programs and services related to aging.

• You can locate elder care facilities through the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging.

  1. Click here for more information about National Citizens' Commission for Nursing Home Reform.

Community, Regional, and National Organizations:

  1. Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly (CANE)

CANE is the Nation's largest computerized collection of elder abuse references and resources.

  1. Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children

Elder Abuse Awareness Web site

  1. National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC)

This site is a comprehensive resource for all types of victims of crime. Includes domestic violence and other websites for every state; elder abuse posters that can be ordered from NCVC; a discussion forum for both victims and professionals; overview of elder abuse laws and policies; and regularly-updated news stories from across the country. (NOTE: some references and links are not, however, up to date.)

  1. National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL)

A project of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV), this Web site provides a variety of resources about abuse in later life. Many of the documents are downloadable and several are in Spanish. There are also links to Web sites of interest to people working in the elder abuse field.

  1. National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA)

The mission of NCPEA is to prvent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older persons and adults with disabilities through research, advocacy, services, treatment, public and professional awareness, interdisciplinary exchange, and coalition building. NCPEA publishes the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect. Subscriptions are free of charge to members.

  1. Consortium for Elder Abuse Prevention

The San Francisco Consortium for Elder Abuse Prevention is a network of 90 public and private agencies, which was formed to address the needs of abused and vulnerable seniors.

  1. Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services "Respect Your Elders" Campaign

A public education campaign, launced in November 2003, to encourage elders and their families and friends to report vicitimization and ask for assistance.

Educational Institutions With Elder Abuse Programs:

  1. University of Iowa Elder Mistreatment Team

This web site provides access to a number of resources developed by the University of Iowa Department of Family Medicine’s Elder Mistreatment/Elder Abuse Team.  Resources include a description of state investigative agency structures; an annotated bibliography of elder abuse research publications; screening instruments; and a critique of elder abuse screening instruments.

Federal Government Resources About Elder Abuse:

  1. U.S. Administration on Aging

Very rich resource on all aging topics, including elder abuse. Website is aimed at older persons and their families, practitioners and other professionals, the aging network, and researchers and students. Includes funding alerts, fact sheets, statistics, advice on website development, extensive weblinks, and much, much more.

  1. U.S. Department of Justice

Links to organizations and resources on elder abuse.

Publications & Resources:

  1. Article, "Elder Abuse and Neglect"

This basic informative article covers types of abuse, indicators of abuse, possible interventions and causes, prevention measures, and more recommended readings.

It is a violation of State and Federal law for any person, including facility staff, volunteers, visitors, family members or guardians, or another resident, to neglect or abuse a resident of a care facility or abuse an elderly person no matter where they live.

  1. 1.   Domestic Elder Abuse

  2. 2.   Institutional Elder Abuse

  3. 3.   Self-Neglect or Self-Abuse

Don’t Ignore Your Suspicions

About Elder Abuse

  1. It is a violation of State and Federal law for any person, including family members, guardians, caregivers, facility staff, volunteers, other residents and visitors to neglect or abuse an elder person.

  1. If you suspect someone is being abused (in their home or away from home in a facility), and you suspect they may be life-threatening danger, call 911 immediately.

  1. To report abuse in a long-term care facility (such as a nursing home or board and care home) call the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman or local law enforcement.

  1. To report report abuse anywhere other than a long-term care facility (such as an assisted living facility, senior or adult day care center, etc), contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency.

More Elder Abuse Resources From AsYouAge 

AsYouAge resources related to elder abuse prevention & protection

Not everyone walks an easy road as they grow older.  As the number of people age 65 and older increases, so does the incidence of elder abuse.

Elder Abuse Is A Crime On The Rise

In 1990 it was estimated that about 1 in every 6 suspected cases of Elder abuse was reported.  Today, the available data indicates that only one (1) out of every fourteen (14) abuse cases is ever reported to authorities.

  1. Physical abuse the elderly happens everywhere - in poor, middle class, and upper-income households.  It also happens in assisted living and long-term care facilities.  And because family members, close friends, and even professional caregivers are usually the perpetrators of Elder abuse and neglect, it is often difficult to discover and even more difficult to accept.

  1. It’s a known fact that Seniors are already extremely vulnerable to physical and other kinds of abuse from family, caregivers and others.  In recent years issues of mental impairment and dementia among the elderly have become additional factors that make Seniors even more susceptible to physical abuse and other types of mistreatment by people who claim to care for them.

A Sad, Painful Story Of Domestic Elder Abuse

“For many years my nephew was the source of both my comfort and my distress. Sometimes he was good to me. And sometimes I had to protect myself from his anger.

When I was hospitalized he took my safe deposit box key and my checks. He took everything I had in the bank. I haven't seen him since.

What's to become of me at 84? I have nothing left. It hurts when someone you love steals everything you have from you.”

More than 10% of Elder abuse is from caregivers and other staff members in care facilities.

Know the warning signs of Elder abuse.  If you suspect an elder family member, friend or neighbor is being abused, report it to authorities. It may be the only way to stop the abuse. Your call is confidential.

Abuse of an Elder is a crime.

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