Over the last few decades one of the major forces in America has been the baby boomer generation.  They have had all the purchasing power in every market and have made up a major segment of society. In the next few years, the baby boomer generation will begin accounting for the population of the United States over the age of 65, or approximately 40.3 million or 13% of the total population of the country. Over the next 30 years more than 20% of the country will be older than 65, while the population of Americans over the age of 85, will rise to 19 million.

In short, America is getting older.

What is Elder Abuse?

elder abuse statisticsWhile unfortunate, abuse of the elderly is a very real and increasing trend. Recent studies have shown that one in ten elderly have experienced abuse in the last year. Elder abuse is defined as any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver that causes harm or risk of harm to an elderly adult. The saddest part of this is that many cases of abuse go unreported, and exploitation, neglect and abuse continue undetected. Many of the abusers are in fact family members.

Startling Elder Abuse Stats

  • The most recent major studies on incidence reported that 7.6%–10% of study participants experienced abuse in the prior year.6,7 The study that found an incidence of 1 in 10 adults experiencing abuse did not include financial abuse.8
  • Available data from state Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies show an increasing trend in the reporting of elder abuse.
  • Despite the accessibility of APS in all 50 states (whose programs are quite different), as well as mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse in most states, an overwhelming number of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation go undetected and untreated each year.
    elder abuse stats
  • One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities.9 The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every case known to programs and agencies, 24 were unknown.10
  • Major financial exploitation was self-reported at a rate of 41 per 1,000 surveyed, which was higher than self-reported rates of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.10
  • 90% of abusers are family members.11

Find a research-based fact sheet on abuse of adults with a disability.

Best Online Resources for Elder Abuse

General Information on Elder AbuseSigns of Abuse & NeglectAssisted Living & Nursing Home AbuseElder Abuse PreventionElder Abuse Help

Administration on Aging

The Administration on Aging’s website on the rights of elders. This site details what elder abuse is and some of the warning signs. Also includes links to various studies and information on what to do if abuse is suspected.


National Center on Elder Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse is a resource for policy makers, social services, and health care practitioners, dedicated to educating people on Elder abuse and stopping it in the country.


Preventing & Reporting Elder Abuse

This 39 page PDF document produced by the California Department of Justice is a guide to preventing and reporting elder abuse.  This details the different types of elder abuse and how to report it.


Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions

Produced by the American Psychological Association, this website is a study on the various stressors and causes of elder abuse. The APA’s comprehensive article identifies how a majority of elder abuse takes place at home and how caretakers and family can avoid abusing family members.


Help Stop Elder Abuse - Area Agency on Aging

A website from Florida that illustrates the basics of elder abuse and its prevention. With an emphasis on reporting elder abuse, this site offers information on the necessary information for reporting abuse.


Women’s Health—Elder Abuse

WomensHealth.gov explains what elder abuse is and what families can do to prevent it. This site gives specific examples of what kind of people abusers are and what the characteristics of each kind of abuse.


Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect

An offshoot of the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect is a service dedicated to education and eliminating elder abuse.


California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform

A quick fact sheet from the Advocates of Nursing Home Reform.


Warning Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect

A warning from the state of Oregon on how to identify abused elders and the symptoms that emerge from different types of abuse. Oregon.gov offers the most comprehensive guide to knowing how to identify signs of elderly abuse or neglect. This is the first place you should start in order to be aware of and recognize the signs. Not all elderly persons will have the courage to report abuse. Knowing the signs will help you help them.


Distinguishing Between Abuse, Neglect, and Self-neglect -- UMKC

Defines the different categories of elder mistreatment and resulting psychological symptoms. (University of Missouri at Kansas City). This site provides information about the differences between direct acts of abuse and indirect acts that lead to neglect.


Warning Signs, Risk Factors, Prevention, and Reporting Abuse

HelpGuide.org lists and explains the different kinds of exploitation and elder abuse and how to identify symptoms of abuse.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse

Signs and symptoms of elder abuse from the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.


The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center

The long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes. They champion the rights of the elderly and are trained to help solve problems.  Dedicated to improving the living conditions of the elderly, this group offers information on rights and services and ways to get involved in the elderly community.


National Organization for Victim Assistance

An organization specializing in helping victims of crime, this link explains the challenges that abused elders are facing and how you can recognize it.


CDC – Elder Abuse Prevention

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention comes this list of things we can do to prevent elder abuse.


Elder Abuse & Neglect

As a trusted non-profit resource that provides expert, ad-free help to those seeking to resolve health challenges, this provides a good foundation on how to prevent elder abuse.


Administration on Aging

This site answers the question, “What are the warning signs of elder abuse?” As the official branch of the department of health and human services, this site is the definitive source of information on abuse prevention.


National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse

The NCPEA reminds us that sometimes we may be the only link to help for abused elders. This site offers information on how we can further prevent it.


State Elder Abuse Hotlines

A list of hotline information by state for elder abuse.


Eldercare Locator

Eldercare locator helps families connect to community services in their zip code.


National Center on Elder Abuse

Another list of state resources for reporting elder abuse. NCEA reminds us that if the situation is serious, or dangerous we need to call 911 immediately.


California Department of Consumer Affairs

Hotlines specific to the state of California, organized by state.


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1U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. (2011) The older population: 2010 (Publication C2010BR-09). Washington, D.C.: Author.
2U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. (2008) Population projections, 2008. Washington, D.C: Author.
3U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. (2010) The next four decades: The older population in the united states: 2010 to 2050 (Publication P25-1138). Washington, D.C.: Author.

6Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University. & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. New York: Author.
7Acierno R, Hernandez MA, Amstadter AB, Resnick HS, Steve K, Muzzy W, et al. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in the United States: The national elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Public, 100(2), 292-297.
8Teaster PB, Dugar T, Mendiondo M, Abner EL, Cecil KA, & Otto JM. (2004). The 2004 survey of adult protective services: Abuse of adults 60 years of age and older. Washington DC: National Center on Elder Abuse.
9National Research Council. (2003) Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
10Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University. & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. New York: Author.

11National Center on Elder Abuse, Westat, Inc. (1998). The national elder abuse incidence study: Final report. Washington D.C.: Authors.