Elder Abuse FAQ

Elder abuse is the committing of physically, emotionally or financially harmful acts towards a person who is 65 years of age or older. The acts may be forceful or without any contact, such as in the instance of neglect or fraud towards the individual, but they must be intentional for it to be considered abuse.

Many senior citizens experience mental and physical health issues that make them more likely to be a target for abuse. Elders who are especially at risk include those who have dementia and victims of domestic abuse who are cared for by their abusive spouses.

Something that is a clear sign that there are suspicious circumstances is when the person has bruises, burns, broken bones or other injuries that indicate force. In the instance of financial abuse, a significant change in the individual’s funds can mean that he or she has become a victim of exploitation. Perceived arguments and tension between the senior and caregiver can mean that there is something negative going on behind the scenes, such as threats or other emotional trauma.

In many cases, the people who abuse the elderly are closest to them. Most commonly, they are caregivers to the individuals. However, since there are a large number of cases that go unreported there is not enough information to have a clear answer.

There is no way to know for sure how many victims there have been. Studies have been conducted, and in more recent studies it was determined that between 7.6 and 10 percent of participants had been abused. Reports indicated that only 1 out of 10 of these individuals did not experience any financial abuse.

In order to keep senior citizens safe, it is necessary to make sure that their health is a top priority. This includes mental health and prevention or treatment for substance abuse issues. Stay connected to the community, attend support groups when possible, and create a living will and name a limited power of attorney.

If you or a loved one experience any issues with a professional caregiver or assisted living facility staff member(s), contact the appropriate authorities who are in charge of incident reports.

There are multiple agencies and hotlines that you can reach out to if you have suspicion of an abusive situation. One of the most important is Adult Protective Services, which handles a broad category of abuse and neglect concerns and issues. If there is evidence of abuse and you are prepared to seek compensation or justice, contact a law firm in your area. You also can find information through National Legal Resource Center.

Physical abuse of elders happens fairly often, due to the fact that many of these individuals are disabled or physically weak. This includes any type of forceful actions towards a senior citizen, whether this is striking or restraining the person in some manner.

Sexual abuse is when any non-consensual acts are performed on or with someone. This also includes showing of pornographic material, exposing oneself or forcing the individual to undress.

Emotional or psychological abuse is when someone threatens, belittles, humiliates or otherwise causes another person emotional stress.

Financial abuse is when someone manipulates to gain control over another person’s money or financial assets. Fraud is when someone poses as the individual or steals their identity to gain access to somebody else’s funds or assets.

Neglect and abandonment is a tricky matter. When an elderly individual is denied the proper care that he or she requires, and/or is not supervised in the manner that is necessary, this is considered to be neglect. This can be intentional or unintentional.

Some examples of healthcare abuse include: being charged for care that is not received, under- or over-medicatin, Medicare fraud, and receiving recommendations for remedies that are not appropriate, among other things. It has cost Americans millions of dollars every year.

If you believe that you or a loved one has a case with solid legal standing, look for a local law firm with positive reviews. You also can ask relatives, friends and others you know for recommendations of lawyers who handle elder abuse cases.