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Elder Abuse: What We Know, What We Need to Know, and How Professionals Can Be Part of the Solution

OnDemand Webinar (101 minutes)

By the year 2030, there will be over 72 million seniors living in the U.S. While elders are living longer, they are not necessarily living better. As more elders experience physical, mental, and cognitive declines they are also at increased risk of elder abuse. The consequences are dire: elders who are victimized are at significantly higher risk of premature death. As a professional working directly with older individuals and families, you are in an ideal position to identify the "red flags" of potential abuse. However, research indicates that only a small percentage of elder abuse cases are identified and addressed, which means that the vast majority of victims do not get the help they need and, in many instances, the abuse continues. This OnDemand Webinar will provide an overview of the different types of elder abuse (self-neglect, neglect by others, physical abuse, psychological/verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and special subtypes); risk factors; barriers to identifying potential abuse; indicators of mistreatment; what to do when you suspect mistreatment; and follow-up.

Learning Objectives:

  • You will be able to explain the various types of elder abuse.
  • You will be able to understand the barriers to identification of elder abuse.
  • You will be able to recognize the risk factors as well as "red flags" of elder abuse.


Sharon Merriman-Nai, University of Delaware


What Is Elder Abuse?

• Myths Versus Truths

• General Definition

• Subtypes of Elder Abuse

The Magnitude of the Problem

• Available Research on Incidence and Prevalence (National Elder Abuse Incidence Study; National Elder Mistreatment Study; APS Statistics, etc.)

• Limits of the Research

• The Preponderance of Un-Reported Cases

• Factors That Contribute to the Under-Identification and Under-Reporting of Suspected Mistreatment

Theories of Elder Abuse

• Power and Control Issues

• Caregiver Stress/Overwhelmed Caregiver Theories

• Intergenerational Theories

• Ageism and Societal Factors

Who Is at Risk for Elder Abuse, and Who Is at Risk of Abusing?

• Overview of Available Research on Risk Factors Associated With Victims and Perpetrators, Including:

- Dementia, Mental Health Issues, Isolation, Advanced Age, Substance Abuse, Health Status and History of Family/Interpersonal Violence

• Gaps in the Research on Known Risk Factors

• Are There Protective Factors?

How to Recognize Potential Abuse

• Barriers to Detection

• Indicators of Abuse (As They Pertain to Each Subtype)

What to Do When You Suspect Elder Abuse?

• Reporting Suspected Elder Abuse

Prevention/Intervention in Addition to Reporting Suspected Elder Abuse

• Clinical Interventions

• Health and Social Services Intervention

• Placement Interventions (While Optimizing the Independence of At-Risk or Victimized Elder)

• Legal Interventions

• Multidisciplinary Strategies

• Efforts to Establish an Evidence-Base Regarding Effective Strategies

Cultural Competence - Addressing Special Populations

• The Importance of Understanding Cultural Norms and Expectations

- Race/Ethnicity, Native Populations, Persons With Disabilities, Rural Settings and GLBTQ

Resources and Additional Information

• References

• National Resource Centers

• Academic and Research Institutions

• National Community-Based and Grassroots Organizations