What is elder abuse?
How widespread is the problem?
What are the different types of elder abuse?
What are the warning signs of elder abuse?
What types of people typically abuse the elderly?
Where do I report a suspected case of elder abuse?
How can the authorities help?
The Administration on Aging, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, defines elder abuse as, “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.” Elder abuse can occur in nursing homes setting and in other treatment settings. Learn more about Nursing Home Injuries and Abuse.
According to the United States Department of Justice, approximately 11% of all elder persons are abused each year. In the United States there are more than 40 million persons age 65 or older, meaning that at least 4 million elderly persons are abused each year in the U.S.
The National Center on Elder Abuse defines seven (7) general categories into which most cases of elder abuse fall:
Learn more about Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse.
Every situation is different, but here are a few things to look for:
According to the National Council on Aging, most incidents of elder abuse are committed by someone who is known to the victim. 90% of people who commit elder abuse are family members, and two-thirds are adult children or spouses.
If you suspect that abuse is occurring, start by contacting:
The circumstances of each individual situation will dictate the appropriate response. If the victim is in imminent physical danger, or is at immediate health risk, the local police or responding paramedics may remove the victim from the scene to be transported to a safe location or healthcare facility. If a crime has been committed, the police will conduct an investigation and refer the complaint to the judicial system.
If the threat of harm or abuse is less imminent, procedures vary from state to state. Generally, however, the state’s office of Adult Protective Services will be charged with investigating the complaint and assessing the danger. APS will then enlist partner social services to address the health and safety concerns for the victim.
In any situation where an instance of elder abuse is suspected, it is always recommended that you consult with a lawyer licensed to practice law in your state. The lawyer can identify the appropriate response in a non-emergency situation, and will ensure that the elder person's well-being and legal rights are protected.