Elder Abuse-How You Can Help
Unfortunately, the abuse, neglect and exploitation of thousands of older persons occurs every
year in our nation. This vulnerable population cannot tend to their own very basic needs, so
they are reliant on the help of family members, caregivers or “trusted others.” These are often
the very people that become guilty of elder abuse.
The World Health Organization declares elder abuse to be, “…a violation of human rights and a
significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation and despair.” All 50 states have
passed legislature in some form or another in regards to elder abuse. Laws and terms vary
from state to state, but here are some broad definitions;
● Neglect- failure to provide proper food, shelter, healthcare or protection for a
● Abandonment- desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed
the responsibility of care or custody of said individual.
● Physical Abuse- intentionally inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, in
● Emotional Abuse- intentionally inflicting mental pain, anguish or distress
through verbal or nonverbal acts.
● Exploitation- the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property,
or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
Some of the warning signs for elder abuse can be one or a combination of one or
more of the following;
● Bruising, broken bones, abrasions or burns.
● Withdrawal from normal activities, or unusual depression
● Bedsores, poor hygiene, sudden weight loss or a change in alertness
● Tense or strained relationships between the elderly and their caregiver
● Sudden or unexplained changes in their financial situation.
If you suspect elder abuse, please, go to the State Resources section of the National Center
on Elder Abuse website, or the Eldercare Locator website or call 1-800-677-1116.