risk factors for elder abuse

One in six adults over the age of 60 has experienced abuse within the past year. The rate of abuse in nursing homes and care facilities is also high, with two in three staffers reporting they have abused a charge in the past year.

Elder abuse in Florida can take many forms, including emotional, financial, physical, and sexual. In some instances, the abuse may appear as elder self-neglect.

What causes some caretakers to abuse their elderly charges varies, but there are some universal risk factors for elder abuse. These risk factors may appear in the individual, in the perpetrator of abuse, or in the relationship between the two. 



One of the main risk factors for elder abuse is social isolation. Many older Americans become isolated as they age and are forced to move in with caretakers or to more affordable locations. 

This social isolation means that abuse can go undetected by others. Additionally, the lack of a social support network means that the older person has no one to turn to for advice, comfort, or assistance. This can worsen the mental health impacts of elder abuse. 


Physical Limitations

When an older person deals with any physical limitations, whether those due to advanced age or injury, the risk of elder abuse spikes. Now that an older person requires assistance in moving around or completely any activities of daily living, they are less able to escape their abusers, which in turn makes them less able to report and interrupt the abuse. 

Physical limitations are one of the top risk factors for elder abuse as they lead to a new host of abusive behavior, such as a refusal to help someone to the bathroom or ignoring an older person’s need to bathe or eat. In addition, this can lead to instances of medication withholding or abuse.


Cognitive Impairment

With advanced age comes the risk of cognitive impairment and degenerative diseases like dementia. Dementia is a common disease that encompasses a variety of symptoms, such as forgetfulness, judgment impairment, and interrupted social and daily functioning. 

Dementia takes many forms, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease causes memory issues and movement problems in later stages.

As with physical impairment, cognitive impairment is a risk factor for elder abuse such as medication withholding or overdosing. Cognitive impairment is one of the strong risk factors for elder abuse because it also can lead to victims not recognizing abusive behavior, being unable to advocate for themselves or report the behavior to authorities.



An older person is more likely to be subject to abuse if they are financially or physically dependent on others or rely on others to ensure their housing and medical needs are met. 

How this dependency appears varies but it is commonly seen when an older person and their caretaker live in a shared household or when an older person relies on someone else to handle their finances or supply the funds for their bills and basic needs. 

Due to this power imbalance, older persons may not speak out against maltreatment or abuse for fear of losing access to necessary resources.


Mental Health Issues

Whether the mental health issues appear in the elderly person or their caretaker, these issues are one of the largest risk factors for elder abuse. Research suggests that caretaker depression is strongly linked to elderly charge abuse. This may lead to the caretaker feeling that their charge is a burden, which can cause feelings of resentment and anger. 

Depression and mental health issues in the elderly charge may make them less likely to report abuse or recognize abusive behavior for what it is. Mental health issues are one of the common risk factors for elder abuse, so older persons must have access to necessary mental health care and advocates. 


Have you or your loved one been subjected to elder abuse?

Contact an Elder Abuse Attorney Today.

Only one in 24 cases of elder abuse are ever reported and instances of elder abuse are expected to increase as the world population ages. Instances of elder abuse increased drastically during the pandemic, with some studies reporting instances of abuse increased by 84 percent. 

If you know of any abuse, it’s important that you report it when possible. You and your loved ones are entitled to safety. Abuse of all types is serious and requires immediate intervention. 

After securing your or your loved one’s safety, you must work with a Florida elder abuse attorney who will help you file an elder abuse lawsuit. An elder abuse lawsuit can help you to secure funds to pay for medical, housing, and mental health treatment costs. 

Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath has won clients millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. Let us help you get the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.