What Is Elder Abuse? FAQs

  • According to the 2010 Census, our population of older adults is at its largest ever (13% of the population) – and growing.
  • Elder abuse is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable older adult, by a caregiver or person in a trust relationship.
  • Older women are more at risk than older men.
  • Elder abuse takes many forms:
    • Physical abuse – use of force, harm or physical injury
    • Emotional abuse – mistreatment that affects emotional or mental health, including intimidation, threats, harassment, belittlement or isolation.
    • Sexual abuse – sexual contact without consent.
    • Neglect – failure to provide a dependent senior with basic necessities.
    • Financial abuse – misuse of the older adult’s money, personal property or resources.
  • 90% of all elder abuse cases also include some form of financial abuse.
  • Only 1 in 14 cases ever comes to the attention of authorities.
  • The majority of abuse happens at the hands of family members (approximately 90%). Family members who abuse drugs or alcohol, who have a mental/emotional illness, and who feel burdened by their caregiving responsibilities abuse at higher rates than those who do not.
  • Older adults with disabilities are at greater risk of abuse.
  • An estimated 47% of older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s endure abuse.
  • The impact of abuse, neglect and exploitation of older adults leads to immense direct medical costs, estimated at more than $5.3 billion.
  • The annual financial loss by victims of elder financial exploitation was estimated at $2.9 billion in 2009 (the latest figures).

To report elder abuse in Michigan, call 1-855-444-3911.

Victims and their advocates can call (248) 661-0123 for help and access to the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at Jewish Senior Life.