Elder Abuse

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse can take a number of forms and may be defined in various ways. It is most often defined as an action by a person in a position of trust which causes harm to an elder. Harmful actions by strangers are usually not considered elder abuse.

The exact incidence of elder abuse is unknown. One estimate for the United States places the number of seniors abused or mistreated at 1.5 million per year. The figure may be much higher since elder abuse is often not reported. In any event, with a rapidly growing elderly population, the numbers can be expected to rise.

Who are the victims of elder abuse?

Elder abuse can happen to anyone, although elders who have mental or physical disabilities are at the greatest risk. More women than men live to be elders, but both sexes are equally at risk for abuse. Some older people are abused by their spouses, others by children, others by caregivers in institutions. As with other types of abuse, those who abuse elders usually keep the victim socially isolated.

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