Elder Abuse: A Hidden Crime

Posted by | June 3, 2015 0

Elder Abuse Awareness RibbonEvery year, 1 out of 10 American senior citizens is abused, neglected or exploited- most often in the privacy of their own homes, by members of their own family.

People often assume that elder abuse takes place primarily in nursing homes. That’s not the case. In fact, less than 5-percent of reported elder abuse cases come from nursing homes.

Although elder abuse cases are reported against 1 out of 10 Americans age 65 and over, aging experts believe the number of actual cases is much higher. Experts say that for every single case reported, 23 cases go unreported. That’s because often times the abuser is a family member acting as a caregiver, and victims don’t want to get their family in trouble. Other cases go unreported because the senior victims are embarrassed.

Elder abuse takes many forms- including physical abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. Family members who take advantage of an elder’s finances constitute a large number of abuse cases and cost seniors billions of dollars each year.

Until and unless Americans take a stand against elder abuse, the problem will likely continue to get worse as the population grows older. The elder population in North American is growing rapidly. Experts predict there will be 72.1 million seniors living in the United States by 2030. While seniors are living longer lives, they aren’t necessarily living better lives. As mental and physical functions deteriorate, seniors become more vulnerable and susceptible to abuse. Abuse statistics are even higher for seniors diagnosed with some form of dementia. One of every two seniors with dementia becomes a victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation. The consequences are costly. Seniors who experience these crimes have a higher rate of hospitalization and often experience an earlier death.
In order to raise awareness of this hidden crime, the weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is recognized as Elder Abuse Awareness. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On that day, at 6 p.m., walks will be held in the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary. The goal of these walks is to educate the public about the prevalence of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The simultaneous walks will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, June 15, at the following locations:

  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian – Tsali Manor
  • Haywood County – Waynesville Rec Center outside track
  • Jackson County – Department on Aging
  • Macon County – Franklin High School
  • Swain County – East Swain Elementary School


While there is no walk planned in Buncombe County, the Land of Sky Area Agency on Aging is hosting a seminar entitled “Elder Financial Exploitation: Your Role in Preventing and Reporting” from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3.

The Sixth Annual Elder Abuse Financial Exploitation Summit is for financial professionals, business managers and staff trainers from banks, business and human service organizations. The objective is to increase awareness among an organization’s staff about their ability to protect older adults and people with disabilities from financial exploitation.

For more information on this event, email rebecca@landofsky.org.

The Internet also has a wealth of information about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. For more information, visit:


North Carolina is a mandatory reporting state, which means if you suspect abuse or know that an elder is being abused, neglected and/or exploited you are required by law to report it to your local social services office. Reports can be made anonymously. To make a report, you will be asked to provide at least the person’s name, address, existing disabilities (if known) and the name of the senior’s caregiver.

To contact Adult Protective Services, call:

  • Buncombe County: 828-250-5500
  • Haywood County: 828-452-6620
  • Jackson County: 828-586-5546
  • Macon County: 828-349-2124
  • Swain County: 828-488-6921

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