An Overview of Elder Abuse: A Growing Problem

This resource is provided by NCALL


“Elder abuse is a hidden yet growing problem in the United States with significant public health and societal implications. It is a tragedy that impacts older adults of all races, cultures, sexual orientations, social classes, geographic areas, faith communities, mental capacities, and physical abilities. Until victim service providers, the justice system, health care professionals, social service agencies, and other community members work together to address this problem, elder abuse will continue unabated, with devastating consequences for older adults and their loved ones.

Although definitions of elder abuse vary, the term generally refers to any physical, sexual, or
psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, or financial exploitation of an older person either within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability (U.S. DOJ, 2013). Older adults may be harmed by spouses or partners in heterosexual, gay, or lesbian relationships, adult children or other family members, caregivers or persons in a position of authority such as guardians, lawyers, or interpreters. In some instances older adults may be targeted by strangers and become victims of sexual assault, stalking, or financial exploitation. The various forms of abuse often co-occur (Acierno et al., 2010; Lachs et al., 2011).”

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