The signs and symptoms of elder abuse are similar to those of other forms of domestic violence and may include physical violence, sexual assault, emotional and/or psychological abuse, and financial abuse. Senior citizens who are abused may also face financial abuse and exploitation, abandonment, and neglect.
Victims of elder abuse face unique challenges:
- Social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease) are two factors that may make an older person more vulnerable to abuse.
- Victims may be totally or partially dependent on the abuser for daily care needs, including meals, mobility, and access to funds and medication. And in some cases the abuser is dependent on the victim for shelter, money, and food.
- Living with someone who has a mental health issue such as an addiction to drugs or alcohol or who is mentally ill may increase the chances for abuse to occur.
- Elder abuse victims may experience shame, fear, embarrassment, anxiety, confusion, withdrawal, and depression.
To exert power and control, the abuser may:
- Inappropriately use drugs and physical restraints to punish the older person.
- Treat the elder like a child.
- Isolate the elderly person from family, friends, or regular activities.
- Refuse or fail to provide life necessities such as meals and water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene care, medication, comfort, and personal safety.
- Desert the elderly person.
- Illegally or improperly use the elder's funds, property, or assets.
- Withhold attention and affection, or deny access to grandchildren in order to get the older person to comply with the abuser's wishes.
How does New York City help victims of elder abuse?
In New York City, it is against the law to intentionally cause physical injury to someone or put someone in fear of physical injury. Victims of elder abuse that are in danger should call 911 or have a friend or neighbor call 911 immediately. Victims may also go to the nearest police station for help.
New York City's 24-hour, toll-free, all-language Domestic Violence Hotline can help older victims of domestic violence find appropriate support and shelter services. The domestic violence hotline maintains a comprehensive list of service agencies in New York City to meet the specific needs of all victims. For more information, please call the hotline at 800-621-HOPE (4673).
The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA)
The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) works to ensure the empowerment, independence, dignity, and quality of life of the City's diverse older adults and to provide support to their families through advocacy, education, and the coordination and delivery of services.
DFTA also works with community organizations to provide home-based supportive counseling, replacement of stolen documents, and assistance with New York State Crime Victim's Board applications. The agency also provides entitlement information, referral services, small emergency cash awards, lock replacements, and gates.
Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center
DFTA's Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center has been assisting elder abuse victims since 1986. The Resource Center's primarily bilingual caseworkers provide telephone consultation to professionals who assist abused elders. Caseworkers also provide counseling services to victims of abuse. The Resource Center receives referrals from community agencies, hospitals, physicians, attorneys, and the general public. For help, please call 212-442-3103 or 212-442-1000.
Elder Abuse Training for Law Enforcement
The NYC Elder Abuse Project has created training curricula for police, prosecutors, and court personnel on the identification, investigation, and prosecution of elder abuse crimes, including financial abuse.
New York City Department for the Aging
National Center on Elder Abuse
Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
The City of New York Resource Directory of Domestic Violence Services