Understanding Elder Abuse and Neglect

As America’s population ages, so does the incidences of elder abuse. Unfortunately, the prevalence and nature of this growing problem has generally remained hidden from public view. It is imperative that both professionals and lay persons become more aware of the scope and many issues surrounding this sensitive topic.

This section addresses many of the concerns surrounding elder abuse including types of abuse, possible indicators of abuse, as well as intervention strategies. Because this topic is extremely important, we recommend that you download Adobe Acrobat Reader so that you have full access to all content offered in this section. Downloading is free and safe.

Types of Elder Abuse and Neglect
  • Passive and active abuse. Caregiver fails to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of the elder. The difference between passive and active abuse is that active abuse is intentional while passive abuse is unintentional.
  • Physical abuse. Intentional infliction of physical harm. This includes everything from slapping to physical restraints.
  • Material and financial abuse. Misuse, misappropriation and exploitation of the elder’s material and monetary possessions.
  • Psychological abuse. Intentional infliction of mental and psychological harm using verbal taunts to threats of physical harm and isolation.
  • Sexual Abuse. Any sexual activity against the elder’s will.
  • Violations of basic rights. Depriving the elder of basic rights provided under state and federal laws. This could range from privacy to freedom of religion.
  • Self Neglect. The elder fails to meet their own physical, psychological and social needs.

Tips to Help Combat Elder Abuse and Neglect
  • Maintain social contacts; increase network of friends
  • Keep in touch with old friends and neighbors even if you move
  • Develop a buddy system with a friend outside the home
  • Ask friends to visit you at home
  • Participate in social and community activities
  • Volunteer
  • Get legal advice concerning powers-of-attorney
  • Review your will periodically
  • Arrange to have your social security check or pension deposited directly into your bank account
  • Don't live with someone who has a history of violent behavior or substance abuse
  • Don't sign a document unless someone you trust has reviewed it
Who to Call:
1. Elder Abuse Hotline 1.800.392.0210 (Missouri)

2. Local Law Enforcement: 911 or your local police number.

3. Care Connection, your local Area Agency on Aging: Every area agency on aging operates an information and referral service. They can provide individuals with information concerning a broad range of services and programs available to individuals 60 and older and their caregivers. Contact us at 660.747.3107 or at 800.748.7826.

4. National Center on Elder Abuse: 1-202-682-2470 or 1-202-682-0100.

Download Center:
Elder Abuse and Neglect FAQs
Understanding Self-neglect