Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are largely hidden by society and by the victims themselves. Older Adults are often reluctant to reveal abusive incidents, especially when the abuser is a family member. Even moreso, many health care, law enforcement, financial, and even aging service professionals may not understand or be able to recognize abuse, neglect or exploitation of those who are elderly. 

The population of older adults is growing and Americans are living longer. By the year 2040, the number of Americans age 65 or older is expected to increase to 82 million. It is important to recognize that most older adults live outside of nursing homes, live alone, and continue to face chronic illnesses and other limiting conditions that decrease their independence. 

Physical Elder Abuse: the non-accidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. Examples include being slapped, burned, cut, bruised or improperly physically restrained. 

Emotional Elder Abuse: willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, intimidations, or other abusive conduct, Examples include frightening or isolating an adult. 

Elder Neglect: 

  1. Active Neglect: willful failure by a caregiver to fulfill the caretaking functions and responsibilities assumed. Examples include abandonment, willful deprivation of food, water, heat, clean clothing/bedding, eyeglasses or dentures, or health related services. 
  2. Passive Neglect: non-willful failure by a caregiver to fulfill caretaking functions and responsibilities. Examples include abandonment or denial of food or health related services because of inadequate caregiver knowledge, weaknesses or disputing the value of needed services. 
  3. Self Neglect: an adult’s inability due to physical or mental impairments, to perform tasks essential to caring for oneself. Examples include providing essential food, clothing, shelter and medical care; getting goods and services necessary to maintain health and general safety or managing financial affairs. 

Financial Exploitation: Improper use of an adult’s funds, property, or resources by another individual. Examples include fraud, false pretenses, embezzlement, conspiracy, forgery, falsifying records, coerced property transfers or denial of access to assets. 

Identity Theft: While older adults are not the exclusive target of identity theft, they are especially susceptible to victimization. Older adults tend to have more assets and readily available cash than others. Greater numbers of people have access to the personal information of vulnerable older adults- home health workers, nurses, family members, assisted facilities, etc.