Elder Abuse Awareness


The National Council on Aging reports 1 in 10 Americans 60 years and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. As our parents and loved ones grow older they become physically frail making them increasingly vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Furthermore, loss of hearing, eyesight, and cognitive problems— like dementia— can lead to abuse in the elderly. Abuse of the elderly may come from a spouse, child, grandchild, or, trusted caregiver.

Types and warning signs of elder abuse:

Photo credit Matthias Zomer


Physical abuse: Causing physical harm by pushing, punching, or slapping an elderly person.

Emotional/verbal abuse. Speaking in a belittling or threatening manner, using inappropriate language, or consistently ignoring an elderly person. Isolating a person from seeing friends or family members is another form of emotional abuse.

Neglect. Poor hygiene/grooming, bedsores, unattended medical needs, weight loss.

Financial abuse. Unusual money transfers to a caregiver or family member. Change in financial situation.

Sexual abuse. Bruises around the breasts, inner thigh, or genital area. Elderly person starts to show inappropriate or aggressive behavior.

What you can do to help if you suspect elder abuse:


Call 911 or contact local law enforcement authorities. Take this step if the situation is urgent.

Speak up. If you suspect someone is the victim of elder abuse, have a private conversation with the individual and let them know your concern. Victims often feel ashamed and it may be very difficult for them to admit to themselves or others that someone is hurting them.

Contact Adult Protective Services. These social service programs are for seniors and adults with disabilities. They are provided by state and local governments nationwide and exist in all 50 states.

Contact the individual’s personal physician or other mandated reporter.

Under California law, certain individuals are legally mandated to report known or suspected instances of elder abuse. The following is a partial list of mandated reporters:

• Physicians and medical professionals
• Clergy
• All employees of health care facilities (hospitals, skilled nursing, adult day care centers, residential care facilities)
• Any individual who assumes responsibility for the care or custody of an elderly person



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