how often does elder abuse occur? Elderly black couple talking about difficult subjects.

Elders are at a higher risk of abuse than any other demographic in our population. They can be easily taken advantage of by their loved ones, careers, and even strangers.

Affecting millions of Americans annually, elder abuse covers a range of actions that violate the human rights of individuals over age 60. It is defined by the World Health Organization as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

This abuse can leave the victim physically or psychologically damaged. Even financial abuse can lead to long-term mistrust and psychological issues that will harm the victim for the rest of their days.


Types of Elder Abuse

Some types of elder abuse have obvious signs, such as physical bruising, while others may be nearly imperceptible. It is important to be able to recognize it when it happens and prepare for how to prevent it.


Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse is the act of causing physical harm to an individual. This includes hitting, pushing, or slapping. It can also mean restraining an elderly person by locking them in a room or tying them to furniture. Physical abuse is considered one of the most extreme forms of elder abuse.


Emotional or Psychological Abuse 

Emotional abuse impacts the victim’s mental wellbeing. This can be by putting them down with hurtful words, threatening them, yelling, ignoring them for long periods of time, or preventing them from seeing other individuals.



Neglect occurs when the caregiver does not attend to the elderly individual’s needs. This is a common practice at many nursing homes where inadequate care is a problem. These facilities may withhold food or medications, prevent access to healthcare, deny social contact, and ignore them.



Abandonment involves leaving the elderly person alone for a prolonged period of time without a caregiver.


Sexual Abuse 

Sexual abuse is a form of elder abuse that involves forcing the individual to partake in sex acts that they do not consent to.


Financial abuse 

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in the United States. It occurs when an individual steals money or belongings from an elderly person. It includes forging checks, taking their retirement benefits, using their credit cards and bank accounts without permission, changing their will or bank account details, fraudulently changing their life insurance policy, and taking the title of their house without permission. 


How often does elder abuse occur in the United States?

The National Council on Aging found that 1 in 10 Americans over 60 years old experienced some form of elder abuse. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services conducted a study on elder abuse reports and found that about 1 in 24 cases are reported to the authorities, while the majority are never officially reported.

Elder abuse is a national crisis, with the U.S. Census Bureau projecting that there will be 95 million Americans over age 60 by 2060. With many of these individuals requiring nursing home care, these vulnerable individuals will be at high risk of falling victim to elder abuse.

This is why Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath are dedicated to defending elders who have been the victims of nursing home negligence. We believe in a safe society where individuals can put their trust in their caregivers and get the proper treatment they deserve.

If you or a family member have been the victim of nursing home negligence, call us today for a free consultation. Find out how we can help you seek justice today.


Who are the victims of elder abuse?

Elder abuse mainly affects women over 60 years of age; however, men are also at risk.

Individuals who have mobility restrictions or mental impairments are at a higher risk for elder abuse, as they require more care from others. Their frailty may make them seem like easy victims, especially to large organizations such as nursing homes where the victim puts their comfort into others’ hands.

Individuals who have no family or friends, or few nearby, are also at a higher risk of elder abuse by people who are not related to them. With no family to check on them regularly, caregivers can allow abuse to flourish unchecked. 


Who are the abusers of older adults?

Although spouses and family members have easy access to individuals, it is caregivers who are most likely to perpetrate elder abuse in the United States. This matters to how often  elder abuse does occur in many situations.

Family members are more likely to commit financial elder abuse, including altering Wills or other legal documents to get access to the elder’s money.

Caregivers are more likely to use physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against elders in their care. Unfortunately, many of these caregivers are paid nursing home staff who have been entrusted with the care of your family member.

It is vital to keep track of your family member’s mood and physical state to look for the warning signs of elder abuse. 


What are the warning signs of elder abuse?

The common warning signs of elder abuse vary depending on the type of elder abuse being perpetrated and how often the elder abuse occurs.

  • Physical signs of elder abuse: broken bones or unexplained physical injuries, severe weight loss, dehydration, unsanitary conditions, looks messy or unwashed, unattended medical needs, broken glasses, develops preventable bed sores, and lacks medical aids such as their walker.
  • Emotional signs of elder abuse: anxiety, increased isolation, changes in behavior, withdrawal from normal activities, trouble sleeping, and trauma signs such as rocking back and forth.
  • Financial signs of elder abuse: unpaid bills, eviction notices, unusual spending patterns, and fraudulent signatures.


How can elder abuse be prevented?

Elder abuse can be prevented by seniors taking control of their finances and healthcare. Their family can help prevent abuse by regularly checking in on their physical and emotional state, supervising caregiving, and allowing the elderly individual control over their own finances.

Unfortunately, not all elder abuse is preventable. Elders who have suffered elder abuse can attend support groups for victims of domestic violence and seek legal action against those who have abused or neglected them.

For expert legal counsel, call Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today.