Thursday, October 18, 2007

National Center on Elder Abuse

Who Are the Abusers?

It has been estimated that roughly two-thirds of all elder abuse perpetrators are family members, most often the victim’s adult child or spouse.


Major Types of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a growing problem. While we don't know all of the details about why abuse occurs or how to stop its spread, we do know that help is available for victims. Concerned people, like you, can spot the warning signs of a possible problem, and make a call for help if an elder is in need of assistance.

Physical abuse

Sexual abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse



Financial or material exploitation



Is Elder Abuse a Crime?

Most physical, sexual, and financial/material abuses are considered crimes in all states insofar as these acts violate statutes prohibiting crimes such as assault, battery, rape, theft, etc. In addition, depending on the perpetrators' conduct and intent, and the consequences for the victim, certain emotional abuse and neglect cases are subject to criminal prosecution.

State criminal statutes, adult protective laws, and federal statutes such as Medicare define and establish penalties for abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. Prosecution of perpetrators is rare, however, and may be hampered by several factors including victims' fear of retaliation, hesitancy to prosecute family members, or lack of capacity to describe the crime or perpetrator.

While there has been some increase in cases prosecuted (particularly in the area of nursing home abuse largely due to aggressiveness of Medicaid Fraud Units), justice for elder abuse victims requires continued specialized training for police officers and other first responders, district attorneys, victim/witness professionals, lawyers, and the courts.


National Center on Elder Abuse


If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call

If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police for immediate help.


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