Protective Services/Elder Abuse

Protective Services

Elder abuse can present itself in various forms - physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation, caregiver neglect and self neglect. Each year hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected and exploited by family members and others. Many victims are people who are frail and vulnerable; who cannot help themselves; and who depend on others to meet their most basic needs.  

Open Your Eyes to the Issue

  • As many as 1 in 20 older adults are victims of abuse. An older person can be the victim of physical abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or other mistreatment.
  • Many times the victim is female, over age 75 and dependent on a spouse, relative or friend to provide care, food, and shelter. The abuser is likely to be a spouse or adult child who lives in the same house and is responsible for providing care to the older person.
    Abuse may occur when a caregiver fails to meet the needs of the older person or when older people fail to take care of themselves.
  • Elder abuse happens everywhere across the country, across the state and across the street, but you can do something about it. You learn how to identify abuse, report it and prevent it. First, though, you must open your eyes to the issue.

Remember: abuse is never acceptable. 

  1. Identify Elder Abuse
  2. How to Report It
  3. Prevent It

Unlike child abuse, elder abuse is not always easy to identify. It can often be hidden or disguised as: 

  • Bruises and broken bones may be blamed on falls when the real cause is punching or beating.
  • Weight loss may be blamed on illness or lack of appetite when the real cause is starvation or neglect.
  • Dementia may be blamed on "old age" when the real cause is drug misuse or malnutrition.

Besides physical signs, there are other clues that may indicate elder abuse, such as: 

  • A neighbor may notice that the older person next door never goes outside or never sees visitors.
  • A bank teller may find that an older customer or someone claiming to represent the older person is withdrawing large sums from savings account without apparent reason.
  • An attorney might question why an older person would sign over his or her home to a relative