As the elderly population increases, elder abuse and other crimes against older persons are also on the increase. It’s important that you know how to recognize elder abuse and how to get help if you’re being abused or you suspect someone you know is being abused. It’s also important to not be a “silent” victim if you’re ever robbed, mugged or taken advantage of through a scam or other type of fraud. You should report these crimes so law enforcement can track down the perpetrators. And you should seek support services to help you cope with their psychological impact as well as your safety and financial concerns.
Forms of Elder Abuse
A recent Study of Elder Abuse Prevalence in New York State (in PDF) found that 76 out of every 1,000 older New Yorkers were victims of elder abuse in a one year period. The Study also found a dramatic gap between the rate of elder abuse events reported by older New Yorkers and the number of cases referred to and served in the formal elder abuse service system. The reported incidence rate is nearly 24 times greater than the number of referred cases. This suggests that many elders are not seeking - or getting - the assistance they need.
Here are some serious ways older persons can be abused:
Emotional Abuse: causing mental anguish and despair by name calling, or by insulting, ignoring, threatening, isolating, demeaning, and controlling behavior.
Financial Abuse: illegally or unethically exploiting an older person through use of his/her cash, credit cards, funds or other assets without permission or through coerced permission.
Physical Abuse: slapping, bruising, coercing (including sexual coercion), cutting, burning, or forcibly restraining an older person.
Neglect: refusing or failing to carry out caretaking responsibilities (e.g., withholding food, medicine, glasses or dentures); also, abandoning a dependent older person.
Getting Help to Stop Elder Abuse
You can discuss any problems or suspicion you have about elder abuse with complete confidentiality when you call 311 and ask for the Department for the Aging's Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center. After hours, 311 will route you to Safe Horizon's hotline.
When you connect to the Resource Center, a counselor will assist you and/or make a community referral. Services available to you include:
- Crisis intervention and safety planning
- Emergency assistance
- Case management services
- Protective services
- Support counseling services
- Victims' services network
- Police services
- District Attorney prosecution
- Legal services specializing in the elderly
You can also get help directly from local community organizations: