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elder abuse collageSpecial Feature: Elder Abuse

Elder abuse, also known as elder mistreatment, generally refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act that causes harm or creates a serious risk of harm to an older person by a family member, caregiver, or other person in a trust relationship (Elder Abuse/Mistreatment, Office for Victims of Crime, Retrieved March 14, 2014).

There is no single age used to define an older adult. The Older Americans Act uses the age of 60; some tribal communities use age 55. Some states, such as California, define an older adult as a person who is age 65 or older. Similarly, states apply different criteria to determine when an older victim is eligible for protective services or receives special protections under criminal statutes. However older adults may be defined, elder abuse generally consists of various forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Other forms, such as confinement, abandonment, and abduction, may be additional categories or may be included in a state’s definition of another form such as physical abuse, neglect, or emotional/psychological abuse (National Victim Assistance Academy Resource Paper: Elder Abuse, Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center, September 2012).

The Elder Justice Act of 2009, as part of the Affordable Care Act, established the Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC) to coordinate activities related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the Federal government (Elder Justice Coordinating Council Web site, Retrieved March 14, 2014). The EJCC’s Elder Justice Interagency Working Group brings together Federal officials responsible for carrying out elder justice activities including elder abuse prevention, research, grant and program funding, and prosecution. This informal group has been meeting since its inception in 2001 to discuss emerging issues, promising practices, and mechanisms for coordinating efforts throughout the federal government (Elder Justice Interagency Working Group, Elder Justice Coordinating Council, October 2012).

To learn more about elder abuse, please select a page from the listing below or from the box at the right under the "Elder Abuse" heading: