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Elder Abuse

For help, call our hotline at (800) 688-6157.
Our advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your call is confidential. 

What is
Elder Abuse? 

Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, or sexual harm inflicted upon an older adult, their financial exploitation, or neglect of their welfare by people who are directly responsible for their care. 

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1 in 10 Americans will experience Elder Abuse in their lifetime. 

As older adults become more physically frail, they’re less able to take care of themselves, stand up to bullying, or fight back if attacked. 

Types of
Elder Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse tends to take place where the senior lives: where their abusers are often adult children, other family members such as grandchildren, or a spouse or partner. Elder abuse can also occur in institutional settings, especially long-term care facilities.

Physical Elder Abuse

Elder physical abuse refers to the use of violence and/or force against an older person in an attempt to cause injury or harm. 

Physical abuse can take many forms, including punching, kicking, pushing, or grabbing. It also includes verbal or physical threatening, rough-handling during bathing or toileting, or physically restraining the older adult.  

Emotional Elder Abuse

The treatment of an older adult in ways that cause emotional or psychological pain or distress. These can include yelling or threats; humiliation and ridicule; habitual blaming or scapegoating. A person can also ignore the older adult, isolate them from friends or activities, and terrorize them through menacing behavior. 

Sexual Elder Abuse

Contact with an older adult without their consent. Such contact can involve physical sex acts, but activities such as showing an older adult pornographic material, forcing the person to watch sex acts, or forcing the elder to undress are also considered sexual elder abuse.

Elder Neglect

Neglect occurs when a caregiver does not respond to the older adult's needs. 

Neglect includes the withholding of essential food, medicines, or general care. Failure to provide daily living care such as bathing, feeding, dressing, or going to the bathroom. 

Elder Financial Exploitation

The unauthorized use of an older adult's funds or property, either by a caregiver or an outside scam artist. An unscrupulous caregiver might misuse an older adult's personal checks, credit cards, steal cash, income checks or household goods, forge the older adult's signature, and engage in identity theft. 

Healthcare Fraud

Carried out by unethical doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, and other professional care providers. This can include, not providing healthcare, but charging for it; overcharging or double-billing for medical care or services; getting kickbacks for referrals to other providers, or prescribing certain drugs; overmedicating or under medicating, and medical fraud. 

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

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Signs of elder abuse can be difficult to recognize or mistaken for symptoms of dementia or the older adult's frailty—or caregivers may explain them to you that way.

In fact, many of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse do overlap with symptoms of mental deterioration, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss them on the caregiver’s say-so.

Changes in personality or behavior of an older adult can be a sign of abuse.
Here are other warning signs that abuse may be taking place:

​​​Source Data: 

Help Guide to Mental Health and Wellness |

Each elder abuse report is a snapshot of what is taking place. The more information that you can provide, the better the chance the elder has of getting the quality of care they need.

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Reporting Elder Abuse suspected by a Primary Caregiver 

 Older adults can become increasingly isolated from society and, with no work to attend, it can be easy for abuse cases to go unnoticed for long periods. Many seniors don’t report the abuse they face even if they’re able. Some fear retaliation from the abuser, while others view having an abusive caretaker as better than having no caretaker and being forced to move out of their own home.

  • Do not confront the abuser yourself. This may put the older person in more danger unless you have the elder’s permission and are able to immediately move them to alternative, safe care.

  • Find strength in numbers. If a family caregiver is suspected of abuse, other family members may have the best chance of convincing the older adult to consider alternative care.

  • Do not confront the abuser yourself. This may put the older person in more danger unless you have the elder’s permission and are able to immediately move them to alternative, safe care.

  • Feelings of shame can often keep elder abuse hidden. You may not want to believe a family member could be capable of abusing a loved one, or you may even think that the older adult would be angry at you for speaking up. But the earlier you intervene in a situation of elder abuse, the better the outcome will be for everyone involved.

​​​Source Data: 

Help Guide to Mental Health and Wellness |

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Do you suspect your loved one of being a victim of elder abuse? We can help. 
Call our hotline, (800) 688-6157.
 Our Elder Abuse advocates are available 24 hours a day, 
7 days a week. 
Your call is confidential. 
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