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Elder Abuse

Special Feature
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Overview

Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of the Nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year.

Defined as an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult, elder abuse covers a wide range of crimes. It includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; neglect; and financial exploitation.

Victims of elder abuse are not just targeted by strangers. Family members, friends, and acquaintances can also take advantage of their relationship to defraud older Americans. An analysis supported by the National Institute of Justice found that 87.5 percent of elders who were victims of financial mistreatment by someone they knew did not report the crime to law enforcement. Most didn’t report their family member or friend for not wanting the perpetrator to get in trouble and not wanting publicity.

Launched in March 2020, the National Elder Fraud Hotline helps combat fraud against older Americans. Managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, callers are assigned a case manager that assists them in reporting the crime and connecting them with necessary resources.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance-sponsored Legal Issues Related to Elder Abuse pocket guide provides law enforcement officers with brief explanations of legal concepts, documents, and tools that may be misused to commit elder abuse. The guide also details issues and actions that justice system professionals may consider if they suspect elder abuse has occurred.

Through the Elder Justice Initiative, the Department of Justice is committed to combatting all forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation through enforcement actions, training and resources, research, victim services, and public awareness.

Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies:

Date Modified: May 04, 2021
Date Created: August 12, 2020