Elder Abuse


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Elder Abuse

(Photo Credit: Trygve Utstumo)

What is Elder Abuse?

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse definitions in state law vary considerably from state to state in terms of what constitutes abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the elderly. However, broadly speaking it can involve physical violence, psychological abuse, isolation, abandonment, abduction, false imprisonment or a caregiver’s neglect.

Domestic elder-abuse generally refers to any of several forms of maltreatment of an older person by someone who has a special relationship with the elder (a spouse, a sibling, a child, a friend, or a caregiver), that occur in the elder’s home, or in the home of a caregiver.

Institutional abuse, on the other hand, generally refers to any of the above-mentioned forms of abuse that occur in residential facilities for older persons (e.g., nursing homes, foster homes, group homes, board and care facilities). Perpetrators of institutional abuse usually are persons who have a legal or contractual obligation to provide elder victims with care and protection (e.g., paid caregivers, staff, professionals).

Elder-Abuse Statistics

The following information is taken from a fact sheet produced by the U.S. Administration on Aging.


Prevalence refers to the total number of people who have experienced abuse, neglect, or exploitation in a specified time period.

According to available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.

Estimates of the frequency of elder abuse range from 2% to 10% based on various sampling, survey methods, and case definitions.

Data on elder-abuse in domestic settings suggest that 1 in 14 incidents, excluding incidents of self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities.

Estimates put the overall reporting of financial exploitation at only 1 in 25 cases, suggesting that there may be at least 5 million financial abuse victims each year.

It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or selfneglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.


Incidence refers to the number of new cases identified or reported at a given point in time, usually one year.

In 1996, nearly 450,000 adults aged 60+ were abused and/or neglected in domestic settings. Factoring in self neglect, the total number of incidents was approximately 551,000.

A University of Iowa study based on 1999 data found 190,005 domestic elder-abuse reports from 17 states; 242,430 domestic elder abuse investigations from 47 states; and 102,879 substantiations from 35 states. Significantly higher investigation rates were found for states that require mandatory reporting and tracking of reports.

In 2000, states were asked to indicate the number of elder/adult reports received in the most recent year for which data were available. Based on figures from 54 states, the total number of reports was 472,813.

In 2003, state Long Term Care Ombudsman programs nationally investigated 20,673 complaints of abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation on behalf of nursing home and board and care residents. Among seven types of abuse categories, physical abuse was the most common type reported.

More Information:

The National Center on Elder-Abuse (NCEA) website is an outstanding resource and is a must bookmark site for forensic nurses. You can visit the NCEA website by Clicking Here

Essential Reading

Elder-Abuse Prevention: Emerging Trends and Promising Strategies by Lisa Nerenberg

Book Information

This book describes what has been done and what remains to be done to prevent elder abuse, treat its effects, and ensure justice. It further addresses the broader need to fortify our long-term care, protective service, and legal systems to meet the new and imminent demands of a burgeoning elderly population.

The author explores trends that have shaped or define practice in the field including the "criminalization" of elder-abuse, the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, an increasingly multicultural elderly population, and heightened understanding the "psychology of victimization."

Elder Abuse Prevention describes:

  • Elder forensics centers
  • Elder courts
  • Family justice centers
  • Elder shelters
  • New "hybrid" multidisciplinary teams
  • Asset investigators
  • Mass marketing fraud prevention
  • Support groups for victims
  • Restorative justice interventions
  • Techniques to improve restitution
  • International initiatives
  • Culturally specific outreach
  • See following link for more details:

    Elder Abuse Prevention: Emerging Trends and Promising Strategies

    UK Visitors Click Here

    Read FBI Profiling Classics on Kindle

    This special Kindle collection consists primarily of the landmark articles written by members of the Behavioral Science Units, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, at the FBI Academy. These seminal publications in the history of FBI profiling were released by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the information on serial killers provided by the FBI's Training Division.

    See following link for full details.

    Information on Serial Killers

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