Elder Abuse: Spotting the Signs and Responding

When we think about getting older, most of us don’t see our senior years including abuse or neglect. However, it’s estimated that more than 2.5 million senior citizens are victims of some form of maltreatment with 90 percent of the abuse being committed by someone the elderly victim knows—most often a family member.

Signs of elder abuse

An older person who is being abused:

  • May seem depressed and withdrawn
  • Will never accept invitations to spend time away from their family or a caregiver
  • Seems afraid to make their own decisions
  • Seems to be hiding something about a caregiver
  • Never seems to have any spending money
  • May put off going to the doctor
  • Seems to have too many household “accidents”

An older person is also at greater risk than other age groups of suffering more serious effects of abuse or neglect. The effects can result in more serious injuries to elders whose bones break and tissues tear more easily. The ability to recuperate diminishes with age. Financial abuse can be devastating because the elderly are less likely to be able to work to make up for their losses.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is frightened in their own home, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you think about options before things get worse.

For Pennsylvanians over the age of 60, help is also available through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) that include older adult protective services as an important component of their aging services.

The phone number for the local AAA can be found in the phone book blue pages under Abuse/Assault or find it on the AAA website.

Help is also available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at:

  • (800) 799-7233 (SAFE)
  • (800) 787-3224 (TTY for the Deaf)

Help is available in English, Spanish and many other languages. All contact with the hotline is free and confidential.