DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN LATER LIFE/ELDER ABUSE
The abuser was a family member in more than half of the approximately six million reported U.S. cases of elder abuse and neglect. 2004 Survey of State Adult Protective Services: Abuse of Adults 60 Years of Age and Older
Like many younger victims, older victims often choose not to reveal abuse by intimate partners and family members. This can be due to fear, shame, isolation, and their ideas about options. It can also include concerns about the person who hurts them. If victims have health problems that limit their freedom and the abusers are also their caretakers, they may worry about who will provide the care or if they will be moved to a nursing home. Abuse in later life is often a continuation of on-going domestic violence as partners age. This is referred to as "domestic violence grown old".
Estimates show that one million Americans 60 years of age or older are abused in their homes each year. Only one case in 14 is ever reported to authorities. Elder Abuse Prevalence and Incidence, National Center on Elder Abuse, 2005
The abuse that older victims describe is similar to the experiences of other victims of domestic violence; abusers control their victims through intimidation, isolation, threats and violence. However, for older victims, abuse can be made worse by age, poor health and other age-related needs. Abusers may limit access to medical care, give too much medicine or take away assistive devices. Older victims are also less likely to call a local domestic violence program or the police, so they don't show up as often in reports about crimes.
Older people have the right to make their own decisions. This can present challenges to others concerned about their safety.
If you suspect an older person is being abused you can
- Support the older victim.
- Listen and give them information.
- Avoid telling them what they SHOULD do.
- Contact the domestic violence program in your area for information and guidance.
To report suspected elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Pennsylvania: Elder Abuse Hotline 1-800-490-8505. In Pennsylvania, elder abuse does not carry a mandatory reporting requirement except in certain institutional settings.
If you see abuse or fear for someone's immediate safety, call 9-1-1 or your local police.
- PCADV's member programs work in every county to provide domestic violence victims and families with emergency shelter, housing options and other services to help victims gain financial stability and independence.
- PCADV legal department attorneys provide technical assistance to advocates and attorneys helping domestic violence victims facing elder abuse legal issues.
- PCADV collaborates with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging to cross-train aging and domestic violence advocates, guide direct service providers and law enforcement, and create a coordinated response to meet the needs of victims age 50 and older.
- Request training from PCADV, your local domestic violence program, or the county Area Agency On Aging
- Get posters on Elder abuse
- In Their Own Words: Domestic Abuse in Later Life DVD-guidebook package uses the voices of victims themselves to create dialog about the dynamics of abuse, barriers victims have to overcome to live free from abuse, and effective responses by service providers. Office of Victims of Crime
- Responding to Elder Abuse a set of DVDs provide considerations for judges, court personnel, law enforcement officers, and community corrections professionals when they encounter victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Responding to Elder Abuse: What Community Corrections Should Know, (DVD), OVC, August 2010. (Transcript), VIDEO (.wmv),VIDEO (.mov)
- Responding to Elder Abuse: What Judges and Court Personnel Should Know, (DVD), OVC, August 2010. (Transcript) , VIDEO (.wmv) , VIDEO (.mov)
- Responding to Elder Abuse: What Law Enforcement Should Know, (DVD), OVC, August 2010. (Transcript) , VIDEO (.wmv), VIDEO (.mov)
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If you fear for your immediate safety, call 9-1-1 or your local police.
Contact the domestic violence program in your area for free and confidential help.
Other victim programs are available to help you and your family.
Any attorney helping a domestic violence victim may contact the PCADV legal department at 888-235-3425 for information on law and legal procedures. (This is not a helpline for victims.)
The information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. The information provided under this topic is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not a substitute for contacting an experienced attorney. Read our full legal disclaimer.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Abuse in Later Life National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
- National Center on Abuse in Later Life
- Pennsylvania Department of Aging
- Pennsylvania Department of Aging: Abuse/Crime
- National Center on Elder Abuse The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) serves as a national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder mistreatment.
- Older Women's League OWL is the only national grassroots organization to focus solely on issues unique to women as they age.
- AARP A membership organization that provides services and benefits to persons over 50.
- Administration on Aging This federal website provides an overview of a variety of topics, programs and services related to aging.
- American Society on Aging (ASA) Website contains publications and resources, educational programs and diversity initiatives, as well as access to a large network of professionals in the field of aging.
- Eldercare Locator Nationwide service assists in finding local services for seniors.
- National Disability Rights Network An association representing federally-mandated programs that protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
- National Association of Adult Protective Services Administrators This site contains resources for assistance in finding publications, data, information and answers about elder abuse.