Elder abuse is any crime, in which the victim is 65 years of age or older and in which the victim may have been targeted because of his/her age or was harmed due to vulnerability due to age or disability.
It has been estimated that roughly two-thirds of all elder abuse perpetrators are family members, most often the victim’s adult child or spouse. Research has shown that the abusers in many instances are financially dependent on the elder’s resources and have problems related to alcohol and drugs.
Approximately 3 - 5 million elderly people in the United States have experienced elder abuse (20% of the senior population) in their lifetime. Washington County Elder Safe, a program of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, served 1,000 elderly people in 2006. It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.
Most common elder abuse crimes include theft, burglary, robbery, forgery, fraud, identity theft, kidnapping, sex crimes, murder, and criminal mistreatment. Criminal mistreatment is defined as a situation when a caregiver fails to provide care, causes physical injury, abandons the elderly person(s), takes charge of an elder for the purpose of committing fraud, or hides an elderly persons’ funds.
Categories of elder abuse
- Physical abuse: assault, menacing, abandonment, neglect, the use of force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment (inappropriate use of restraints is included). Neglect is defined as the refusal or failure of a caregiver to fulfill his or her care-giving responsibilities.
- Sexual abuse: rape, sodomy, sexual assault, sexual penetration, non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person.
- Emotional or psychological abuse: rejecting, degrading, terrorizing, isolating, denial of emotional responsiveness, the infliction of anguish, pain or distress.
- Financial abuse: ordinary theft, theft by deception, identity theft, forgery, undue influence, the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. This can include forgery, fraud, unexplained transfers of an elder’s assets and the unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions.
If you have been a victim of elder abuse, or if you know someone who has been a victim of elder abuse, help is available. Call the Protective Order Advocacy Program at 503.640.5352 x306.