How to Report Elder Abuse

Did you know that elder abuse is a common form of mistreatment for people ages 60 and older? The National Center on Elder Abuse states that one out of ten older people in this country is subject to physical, emotional, financial, and sexual harm. They are also the victims of neglect. The abuse usually happens in the victim’s home, a relative’s home, or a long-term care facility. The perpetrator is often a caregiver who is a relative or a worker at a care facility. The following information may help you to identify and report elder abuse:

Types of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can happen to anyone in the care of other people, though older people are most often the victims. Here are some common types of elder abuse:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the result of someone using physical force against an older person. The following types of abuse can leave serious injuries:

  • Hitting
  • Beating
  • Shaking
  • Slapping
  • Kicking

Older people may be afraid to tell others about their physical mistreatment. They may fear retaliation from the abusers. It is up to family members and the medical community to recognize the warning signs of elder abuse. Here are some common warning signs to recognize that can indicate physical abuse:

  • Broken bones, fractures, and sprains
  • Bruises, scratches, and welts
  • Unexplained accidents
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Depression, stress, and confusion
  • Afraid of caregivers

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when a person does something to cause an elder person mental suffering or grief. Common examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Insults
  • Intimidation
  • Verbal assaults
  • Isolation


A relative or caretaker commits neglect when they do not take care of an older person. Here are some types of neglect that can severely affect the well-being of an elder:

  • Unclean surroundings
  • Insufficient preparation of food
  • Lack of clean water
  • No help with personal hygiene
  • Not providing clean clothing
  • Not administering medication

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when someone has sexual contact with an elder person without consent. Some older people are at risk for sexual abuse due to illness, confusion, and high doses of medication. The following items are common symptoms of sexual abuse:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Bleeding from genital areas
  • Changes in behavior
  • Bruising on the body

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse happens when someone uses an older person’s assets without permission. This type of abuse can be devastating to the financial security of an elder person. These are indications that financial exploitation of an older people may be occurring:

  • New names on bank accounts
  • Large withdrawals of funds
  • New credit cards
  • Unpaid bills
  • Missing personal items such as jewelry or anything of perceived value

Where to Report Elder Abuse

You should report elder abuse as soon as possible. Adult Protective Services (APS) investigates adult abuse in each state. You can call APS to make a report.

Mandatory Reporting

Many states require healthcare and other types of professionals to report their suspicions about elder abuse to the appropriate authorities. Here is a list of those professionals:

  • Social workers
  • Medical professionals
  • Care facility employees
  • Police

Hiring Elder Law Attorneys

Our elder law attorneys can help you make difficult decisions about care for older loved ones. We can help you with the following issues:

  • Physical, financial, and emotional abuse
  • Guardianship
  • Choosing living facilities
  • Wills and trusts

Elder abuse happens to one out of ten older people. It is important to recognize the signs so you can report it to the APS office in your state. If you need help with a legal matter affecting an older person, call our elder law attorney Sacramento CA residents trust immediately.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into elder law.