National Violent Offender

Elder Rights & Resources

It serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Many local organizations have scheduled events on and around June 15th.

We hope you will join others around the nation and world in observing this important day by carrying out activities such as:

Developing an educational program or press conference; Volunteering to call or visit an isolated senior who may be at risk of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation; or Carrying out any activity that aims to create awareness of elder mistreatment, such as submitting an editorial or press release to your local newspaper. The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) has produced the Community Guide to Raise World Awareness on Adult Abuse Tool Kit. The Toolkit provides sample ideas and templates for activities and examples of materials, resources, proclamations, and messages. The Toolkit is available for free download at

For More Ideas or Information:

International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse ( for more information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day National Center on Elder Abuse ( for data, fact sheets, and other information on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in the U.S. The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life ( for information on coordinating elder abuse prevention efforts with domestic violence and sexual assault programs Eldercare Locator ( to contact your local area agency on agency about volunteering to call or visit an isolated senior World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an excellent opportunity to share information about abuse, neglect, and exploitation in later life. However, raising awareness of mistreatment of older persons is an ongoing effort, not limited to one day. AoA has a long-standing commitment to addressing elder mistreatment, and to protecting the dignity, rights, and financial security of older people. To that end, we are working to carry out the following objectives:

Increase the awareness of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation to guide programs that protect older people;
Increase the ability of professionals, especially those of the aging network and community-based agencies who have access to frail seniors on a daily basis, to prevent elder abuse by encouraging the development and dissemination of timely and accurate information on best practices; and Foster the development of programs, models, and initiatives that measurably decrease the incidence of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Elder Abuse Is a Serious Problem

Each year hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited by family members and others. Many victims are people who are older, frail, and vulnerable and cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs.

Legislatures in all 50 states have passed some form of elder abuse prevention laws. Laws and definitions of terms vary considerably from one state to another, but all states have set up reporting systems. Generally, adult protective services (APS) agencies receive and investigate reports of suspected elder abuse.

The 2004 Survey of State Adult Protective Services, funded by AoA, found the following:

A 19.7 percent increase from 2000 – 2004 in the combined total of reports of elder and vulnerable adult abuse and neglect;
A 15.6 percent increase from 2000 – 2004 in substantiated cases;

In 20 of the states, more than two in five victims (42.8%) were age 80 or older; Most alleged perpetrators in 2003 were adult children (32.6%) or other family members (21.5%), and spouses/intimate partners accounted for 11.3% of the total (11 states responding).

Generally Accepted Definitions

Elder abuse is an umbrella term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.

Physical abuse is inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.

Sexual abuse is the infliction of non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.

Emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional anguish or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.

Financial or material exploitation is the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.

Neglect is the refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.

Self-neglect is characterized as the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health or safety.

Abandonment - The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

Reporting Elder Abuse

To report elder abuse, contact APS through your state’s hotline. The APS agency screens calls for potential seriousness, and it keeps the information it receives confidential. If the agency decides the situation possibly violates state elder abuse laws, it assigns a caseworker to conduct an investigation (in cases of an emergency, usually within 24 hours). If the victim needs crisis intervention, services are available. If elder abuse is not substantiated, most APS agencies will work as necessary with other community agencies to obtain any social and health services that the older person needs.

The older person has the right to refuse services offered by APS. The APS agency provides service only if the senior agrees or has been declared incapacitated by the court and a guardian has been appointed. The APS agency only takes such action as a last resort.

State Elder Abuse Hotlines (Off Site)

If you suspect nursing home abuse, call your Long Term Care Ombudsman:

National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform: State Directory (Off Site)

The Role of the Administration on Aging

AoA has a strong commitment to protecting seniors from elder abuse. Our community-based long-term care programs allow millions of seniors to age in place with dignity. Older Americans Act programs such as congregate and home delivered meals reduce risk factors for elder abuse and exploitation such as isolation and depression. AoA also supports a range of activities at the state and local level to raise awareness about elder abuse. Our emphasis is on developing public-private partnerships that build the capacity of our providers and other professionals to prevent, identify, and respond to elder fraud, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

AoA administers formula grants for state activities designed to protect seniors from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. These include efforts to train law enforcement personnel; develop and distribute educational materials to our providers and “gatekeepers,” such as mail carriers and bank tellers; conduct public awareness campaigns; and create community coalitions and multi-disciplinary teams. Our funding helps to support many elder abuse and exploitation prevention multi-disciplinary teams. The characteristics of these teams vary, but most meet regularly to discuss specific cases, provide cross-training and community education, and identify and fill gaps in the service system. They often include a wide range of public and private professionals, including law enforcement personnel, medical professionals, APS workers, social service providers, and representatives from banks.

For example, AoA helps to support:

Orange County, California’s Fiduciary Abuse Specialist Team: In the 2005 state fiscal year, this team of 50 multi-disciplinary public and private professionals met monthly to discuss exploitation cases and the program coordinator provided 63 community and professional education sessions to over 2,000 people.

Sonoma County, CA Elder Abuse Prevention Council, created a Court Advocacy Workgroup made up of senior volunteers. The workgroup follows cases of elder abuse and exploitation to help raise their visibility within the judicial system. When the workgroup began in 2000, they were following about 5 cases a year. They are now following nearly 30 each year, 80% of which are financial exploitation cases.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ Senior Companion Program trains volunteers and local Adult Protective Services staff in abuse, neglect, and exploitation to work with self-neglecting elders to improve their outcomes.

The Area Agency on Aging of Cape Fear, North Carolina Council of Governments provides annual training that addresses a variety of topics impacting the quality care for older adults to nursing assistants, volunteers, and staff from assisted living facilities, nursing homes, Home Health Services, Department of Aging, Adult Day Care, Department of Social Services, law enforcement, and mental health agencies. The training methods portray elder mistreatment, reporting, and intervention that includes a short play and audience reaction. The Cape Fear Council of Governments also hosts two-day training sessions with agencies that provide services to seniors in New Hanover County with the goal of implementing local planning processes for building an effective elder rights system that examines issues impacting seniors and addresses service gaps.

The Ohio Department of Aging began a Public Awareness Campaign where the State Unit on Aging Director taped TV and radio segments, 30-60 seconds in length, about the State Long Term Care Ombudsman and the Long Term Care Consumer guide. Since implementation, calls and website visits have increased.

The Washington, D.C. Office on Aging supports an Adult Abuse Prevention Committee, which develops work plans each year including initiatives such as consumer fraud prevention conferences, roundtables with different agencies and organizations to collaborate efforts, and training for bank security personnel to identify financial exploitation.

AoA and the HHS Office of Women’s Health developed the curriculum Building a Coalition to Address Domestic Abuse in Later Life to include information on working with traditionally under-served populations, including Native and African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian and Pacific Islanders. Domestic violence shelters and programs primarily serve younger women, and adult protective services programs may not offer traditional domestic violence services to senior victims, such as support groups. The curriculum provides a model for how these professionals can work together. A number of communities have received training based on this curriculum and launched their own coalition, such as the Pikes Peak Region Coalition to Address Abuse in Later Life in Colorado Springs, CO.

AoA also funds the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) to serve as a resource for the public and for professionals. NCEA provides elder abuse information to the public and to professionals; offers technical assistance and training to elder abuse agencies and related professionals; conducts short-term elder abuse research; and assists with elder abuse program and policy development. It manages an elder abuse list serve for professionals in the field, and it produces a monthly newsletter.


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