Elder abuse can be wide-ranging. One definition, found in the The Elder Justice Roadmap (pdf) is:
Elder abuse “includes physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation of an older person by another person or entity, that occurs in any setting (e.g., home, community, or facility), either in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability.”
As such, elder abuse can happen in a variety of settings, and can be committed by a range of individuals. Nursing home abuse is often considered a form of elder abuse.
Elder abuse is a growing problem, albeit one that is difficult to quantify. Many believe that it is underreported. As stated on this site’s “Elder Abuse” page:
It is widely believed that incidents of elder abuse are underreported, with various sources indicating that one in less than 10 cases are reported.
The Elder Justice Roadmap report provides additional commentary and statistics regarding elder abuse.
From the Executive Summary:
Elder abuse – including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation – affects about five million Americans each year, causing untold illness, injury and suffering for victims and those who care about and for them. Although we do not have a great deal of data quantifying the costs of elder abuse to victims, their families, and society at large, early estimates suggest that such abuse costs many billions of dollars each year – a startling statistic, particularly since just one in 24 cases is reported to authorities. Given the aging population and the widespread human, social, and economic impact of elder abuse, a broad range of stakeholders and experts were consulted on how to enhance both public and private responses to elder abuse.
Statistics from Page 3, with footnotes in the report:
- One out of every ten people ages 60 and older who live at home suffers abuse, neglect, or exploitation.2
- In several small studies, about half of people with dementia suffered from abuse or neglect by their caregivers.3
- Cognitive impairment reduces financial capacity, increasing risk of financial exploitation.4
- High rates of neglect, poor care or preventable adverse events persist in nursing homes and other long-term care settings where more than two million people (most of them elderly) live.5
- About two-thirds of elder abuse victims are women.6
- African American,7 Latino,8 poor, and isolated older adults are disproportionately victimized.9
- For every 1 case of elder abuse that comes to light, another 23 remain hidden.10
On page 4, statistics are provided with regard to “The Human And Economic Toll” of those who experience elder abuse.
As to how to spot potential elder abuse, the National Center On Elder Abuse (NCEA) has published a document titled “Red Flags of Abuse,” (pdf) which covers various areas of abuse, each with multiple items, including:
- Financial Abuse/Exploitation
- Psychological/Emotional Abuse
- Physical/Sexual Abuse
The document also provides information as to how suspected elder abuse can be reported.