Elder Abuse

In the United States, the issue of elder mistreatment is garnering the attention of the law enforcement, medical, and research communities as more people are living longer than ever before. This trend is expected to increase, as the U.S. Census Bureau projects that more than 62 million Americans will be age 65 or older in 2025, an increase of 78 percent from 2001, and more than 7.4 million will be age 85 or older, an increase of nearly 68 percent from 2001.[1] This aging population will require more care and protection than is currently available or possible.

The National Research Council defines elder abuse and mistreatment as "(a) intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder, or (b) failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder's basic needs or to protect the elder from harm."[2] This definition includes financial exploitation of the elderly as well as physical abuse or neglect.

NIJ's primary objectives regarding elder mistreatment are to identify emerging promising practices and evaluate their effectiveness in improving prevention, detection, and intervention efforts.

Notes

[1] McCoy, K., and B. Hansen. "Special Report: Havens for Elderly May Expose Them to Deadly Risks," USA Today, May 25, 2004, 1A.

[2] Bonnie, R., and R. Wallace, eds. Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in an Aging America Exit Notice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

Date Created: November 6, 2007