elder abuse

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.

  • Physical abuse means inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.
  • Sexual abuse means touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.
  • Emotional abuse means verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.
  • Confinement means restraining or isolating an older adult, other than for medical reasons.
  • Passive neglect is a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
  • Willful deprivation means denying an older adult medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm—except when the older, competent adult has expressed a desire to go without such care.
  • Financial exploitation means the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.

Learn more about the types of abuse from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).

How many older Americans are abused?

Approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as five million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only one in 24 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

Who are the abusers of older adults?

Abusers are both women and men. In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.

What makes an older adult vulnerable to abuse?

Social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease) are two factors. Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect. Interpersonal violence also occurs at disproportionately higher rates among adults with disabilities.

What are the warning signs of elder abuse?

  • Physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment: Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns
  • Emotional abuse: Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult
  • Financial abuse: Sudden changes in financial situation: Overdue bills, electricity or gas shutoffs, unable to afford food or medicine.
  • Neglect: Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss
  • Verbal or emotional abuse: Belittling, threats, or other uses of power and control by individuals

What are the effects of elder abuse?

Elders who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated. While likely under-reported, estimates of elder financial abuse to older Americans range from $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion annually. Yet, financial exploitation is self-reported at rates higher than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.

Are there criminal penalties for the abusers?

Most states have penalties for those who victimize older adults. Increasingly, across the country, law enforcement officers and prosecutors are trained on elder abuse and ways to use criminal and civil laws to bring abusers to justice. You can review Ohio elder justice laws HERE.

How does a person make an elder abuse report?

If an older adult is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call 911.

Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated should contact a local Adult Protective Services office, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or police. 

If you are in Montgomery County, Ohio, call Adult Protective Services at (937) 225-4906, 24 hours a day to report suspected abuse.

For claims of abuse or neglect within a long-term care facility, contact the Montgomery County Regional Ombudsman Office. Director Lawrence Wilkins can be reached at [email protected].