Elder Abuse Rampant & It Needs To Be Stopped

Elder Abuse Rampant & It Needs To Be Stopped

Most people know that elder abuse happens; I did. I knew it was a pretty common thing, too. It’s nearly an epidemic and  I’m looking for input on what to do.

You see, I do a lot of research about all kinds of topics related to aging. I read through a large number of news items and articles every day. A while back, I started keeping an eye on the number of times I saw items about elder abuse: physical or mental abuse, neglect, exploitation or other situations where someone who is older is being mistreated or taken advantage of in some way.

A few days ago, I made note of more than 196 news items about elderly abuse. (That’s not all of them, of course; I just stopped counting.)

I wasn’t even sure what to do with that.

Most of the time I write, I try to do what any good writer would do: identify the problem in a way that resonates with the reader, explore it a little, then propose some sort of resolution that provides benefit. I just can’t wrap my mind around this situation, though.

Why does it happen anyway?

Elder abuse

Elder abuse

It’s easy to say that some people are broken. I get that. They are the ones who are doing wrong. They make a choice to take advantage of someone who can’t protect themselves. That’s true, of course.

But, I also think we’re broken, too. So often, we don’t identify with an issue like elderly abuse if it doesn’t affect us personally. We give ourselves permission to ignore it. It is like we say to ourselves, “If it doesn’t hurt me, I’m not going to think about it.” Or, for some, “If it hurts too much to think about, I won’t.”

That’s the blind eye and I’m as guilty as anyone.

How bad is elder abuse?

According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, older people that suffer violent abuse have an increased chance of health care problems, such as bone or joint problems, digestive problems, depression or anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure and heart problems.

“Elders who experienced [any kind of] abuse, had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused.” (National Center on Elder Abuse.)

Elder abuse of all kinds can have a negative effect on the physical, mental, emotional and financial well-being of victims. In 2009, it was estimated that the financial loss experienced by victims were $2.9 billion. And, medical costs resulting from abuse added more than $5.3 billion to U.S. annual health expenditures.

How can we stop it?

I’ve been doing some reading about what some communities are doing to stop elder abuse. I’ve also read up on legislation aimed at protecting older Americans. But, efforts are fragmented and, in many cases, laws go unenforced for one reason or another.

This problem is huge. Elderly folks are being hurt every day in the United States and the occurrence of abuse is growing at an alarming rate.

Obviously, I don’t have all the answers, But, I’m willing to bet that some of you know of things being done in your communities.

Why not share it below? If you know of someone who is doing something to put a stop to elder abuse, then tell us in the comments below. And, please share this with your friends. Maybe they know something, too.

I would like to document as much as I can find and share it so we can all benefit from the collective knowledge.


photo credit : “Creative Commons untitled photo” by eflon is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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Mark Hager About Mark Hager

By Mark Hager
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Mark Hager is an aging in place thought leader and advocate. He is the founder of AgeInPlace.com, CEO of Age in Place Networks, a leading authority in the aging in place niche and a trusted voice for both consumers and business owners serving older consumers. Over the years, Mark has provided help for thousands of consumers, organizations and small businesses.


  1. Hello Mark, thank you very much for raising the awareness of elder abuse and proactively get the public attention to prevent it happening.

    Awareness of elder abuse has been gradually increasing, and is currently recognized by experts as a public health crisis. In fact, 2013 was the Year of Elder Abuse Prevention, sponsored by the Administration on Aging. Every year, an estimated 2.1 million Americans experience elder abuse, exploitation, or neglect.

    GeriJoy, the MIT startup that provides virtual senior companion services and proactive caregiving supervision to combat elder abuse attracted the attention of thought leaders in the health and senior care industry such as HIT Consultant. It was reported that “Startup Gerijoy’s Virtual Elder Care Companion Saves Senior from Abuse” the company’s virtual talking dogs saved a home-bound senior from an abusive paid caregiver. http://hitconsultant.net/2013/04/16/startup-gerijoys-virtual-elder-care-companion-saves-senior-from-abuse/

    The GeriJoy Companion has already been touted by organizations like AARP, TEDMED, and the US Senate as one of the most innovative solutions in senior care.

    Experts believe that for every reported case of elder abuse or neglect, up to five cases go unreported. The GeriJoy Companion is backed by their 24/7 team of care staff, so it’s the ideal cost-effective watchdog. Through their 24/7 presence, GeriJoy Companions can help detect and act upon these currently unreported cases. You can learn more about GeriJoy at http://www.gerijoy.com/families.html

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