What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is the intentional act of abuse towards older adults over the age of 60. Elder abuse is a large-scale problem that is more common than most people realize. In one study done on more than 7,000 seniors, it was found that one in ten seniors had experienced elder abuse at least once in the past year. And yet, it is estimated that only one out of every 23 elder abuse cases are being reported to the appropriate protective services.

Types of Elder Abuse

Many people assume that the only form of abuse is physical abuse. But, that is far from the truth. Elder abuse takes on many different forms, all of which put victims in danger. The different forms of abuse are:  

Physical abuse, which includes violent actions such as hitting, slapping, bruising, burning, or any other physical action that causes bodily harm, injury, pain, impairment, distress, chronic or acute illness, or death.

Physical abuse also includes forcibly restraining an elder and forcing unwanted and unrequited sexual conduct (both physical and nonphysical).

Psychological/emotional abuse, which includes insults, threats, neglect, isolation, name calling, and demeaning or controlling behavior that results in the victim feeling humiliated, distresses, scared, tormented, or emotionally pained.

Neglectful abuse, which includes the failure or refusal of a caregiver to provide the victim with their vital needs. These needs include food, medicine, necessary aids, hygiene, clothing, or shelter, all of which can result in jeopardizing the senior’s health and safety.    

Financial abuse/exploitation, which is the illegal or unwarranted use of an elder’s financial or valuable resources. This can include theft, forgery, or misuse of the victim’s funds or possessions, forcing the surrender of the victim’s finances or properties, refusing the victim access or use to their personal assets, and wrongful use of power of attorney (the legal act of controlling someone else’s legal and financial matters) and guardianship.   

What to do

It is imperative to seek help if you or someone you know is suffering from elder abuse. Many people will hold back from reporting elder abuse because they either notice it, but do not want to intrude on someone’s personal life or they are experiencing the abuse, but do not want to report their family or caregiver. But, without seeking help, the abuse will only continue to escalate, which will result in causing even more harm to the victim.  

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you or someone you know is suffering from elder abuse, call 311 to report abuse or to be connected with helpful resources. Many resources are available in order to combat elder abuse

To report Elder abuse, visit The Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative here.

To learn more about Elder abuse, visit:

The United States Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative

The National Institute of Justice Elder Abuse

NYC Department for the Aging

Administration on Aging

For additional resources, visit: CDC/ Elder Abuse: Additional Resources here.


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