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National Victim Assistance Academy Resource Paper: Elder Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2012
27 pages
Publication Series
Following a presentation of statistics on the nature and prevalence of abuse of the elderly, this paper defines terms associated with elder abuse, addresses the unique impact/effect of abuse on elderly individuals, and considers perpetrator characteristics, victimization locations, and effective responses for victim support and advocacy.
Older adults are victims of the same crimes as other age groups, and in addition they are often victimized because of their dependence on others and their physical limitations. Elder abuse occurs where they live, including private homes, residential-care facilities, foster care homes, and nursing facilities. The elderly are at particular risk for abuse when they are dependent on family members and/or other caretakers for their needs. Effective responses for supporting and improving services for elderly victims include the development of a safety plan that focuses on their limitations and vulnerabilities, encouragement and guidance for obtaining medical care, the provision of shelter when family caregivers are abusive, and the provision of information and assistance if their victimization leads to criminal proceedings. Elderly victims also need to receive information and guidance on recovering lost property or obtaining compensation for crime-related expenses. Other services often needed by elderly crime victims are legal and financial assistance; meal delivery services; special transportation; and regular contact with friends, family, and others who can provide needed help. The paper concludes with a discussion of cultural issues and barriers to reporting victimization and accessing services. Cultural conditioning may influence what and whether certain acts are viewed as elder abuse. Elderly victims may also prefer to address their victimization as a private matter, as they are reluctant to seek help from strangers employed by service and criminal justice agencies. Training requirements are discussed for service providers who must serve a diverse population influenced by various cultural backgrounds. A listing of resources that include articles, publications, and Web sites is included. 51 notes

Date Published: September 1, 2012