The Unspoken Reality of the Elderly and How to Flip the Switch  

Oftentimes, adults look forward to retirement. People idolize this part of life, the time when they are no longer expected to provide a substantial amount of work to their job  and community. It is supposed to be a time to enjoy life, carefree and live the American  Dream. 

Sadly, this is not the type of life that many elders face. In fact, every year over five  million elderly people are victims of abuse. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO)  states that only 4% of elder abuse is reported. Due to becoming weaker with age,  many elders cannot defend themselves from their abusers, leaving them helpless. 

  1. What is elder abuse and how common is it?  

Approximately 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse, whether it is in their own home or in an assisted living center. Elder abuse has only increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in nursing homes. COVID-19 created health-related anxiety, isolation, and lower incomes for the residents and staff of the nursing homes and the families of the residents. This has caused many elderly people to be neglected by their families and nursing home staff, leaving them completely alone. 

According to a  

presentation created by  

Home Instead Senior  

Care Outer East, there 

are six types of elder  

abuse: physical,  

psychological, sexual,  


financial exploitation,  

and healthcare fraud.  

Out of these types of  

abuse, elders are more  

likely to experience  

physical and emotional  

abuse. In a study  

conducted by WHO,  

approximately 1 out of 3  

nursing home staff  

confessed to  

emotionally abusing  

their residents.

Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse elderly fall victim to. Physical abuse  is more likely to occur in nursing homes. 29% of all nursing home abuse reports are physical.  

However, nursing homes are not the only place in which elders face abuse. Elderly people are also likely to fall victim to abuse in their own homes. “Outside of nursing homes, spouses or partners made up nearly 60% of all perpetrators of physical abuse...” (Nursing Home Abuse Justice) 

Gender, social class, and health problems can increase a person’s odds of suffering from elder abuse. Elderly women are more likely to be victims of abuse. In fact, 2/3  elderly abuse victims are women. People who rely on Medicare for healthcare are more likely to be placed in a toxic and abusive home. People who suffer from 

Disabilities, mental or physical, are also more likely to become victims of abuse.  2. Signs of elder abuse  

Although abusers and their victims may be able to hide their unspoken reality, there are still many signs that one could look for to stop and prevent another elder falling victim to abuse. 

 If you believe  

Someone is suffering  

from physical abuse,  

look for “hard to  

explain” injuries,  

bruising, and marks  

on the person’s body. 

One article states  

that if the elderly  

person is living in a  

nursing home or with  

a caregiver and you  

are refused visitation,  

this is also a sign of  

elder abuse. The  

abuser will want to  

isolate the victim as  

much as possible to 

limit the possibility of  

being caught.  

While physical abuse  

may be easier to 

spot, there are still signs you can look out for when someone is suffering from  emotional abuse. If you notice a change in behavior in the elderly person, they might  be victims of emotional abuse.  

Changes in behavior include:

 -Withdrawal from hobbies and/or social events 

 -Increase in anxiety 

 -Increase in depression 

 -Increase in paranoia 

Neglect is also a common type of elder abuse,  

that can be prevented by noticing the signs.  

When an elderly person must rely on someone  

else to meet their daily needs, it is easy for  

them to become victims of neglect. 

If you notice an elderly person experiencing  

an unhealthy amount of weight loss or fatigue,  

be sure to check that their dietary needs are  

being met. Additionally, if you notice that the  

person’s living environment is hazardous or  

extremely unclean, check to see if their  

caregiver is properly providing for them. 

Financial abuse may also be prevented if you  

look for the signs. If you notice substantial  

amounts money being withdrawn, yet they do  

not have the money to pay for their bills or  

medication, keep a look out for people who  

may be financially abusing the elderly. 

  1. Effects of elder abuse 

Victims of any type of abuse suffer both short 

term and long-term effects. Physical abuse  

can cause broken bones, internal bleeding,  

and in extreme cases, death.  

An elder who is a victim of physical abuse is  

three times more likely to be hospitalized  

and/or die than one who is not victim of abuse. 

Due to frequent hospitalizations, many families are left in financial ruin trying to cover  their elder’s medical expenses. Research estimates that roughly $5.3 billion in medical  costs come from treatment of physical elder abuse.  

This is not the only money that is lost due to abuse. The rise of elder financial abuse  has caused a yearly loss of a minimum of $36.5 billion.  

Psychological abuse can leave the person with long-lasting anxiety and depression, leaving the person in a deep state of loneliness. Research supports that the elderly  have the highest suicide rate in any age group in the nation, depression being a main  cause.  

  1. Facts and Statistics Summary of Elder Abuse  

★ over five million elderly people are victims of abuse 

★ only 4% of elder abuse is reported 

★ Approximately 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse 

★ 1 out of 3 nursing home staff confessed to emotionally abusing their residents ★ 29% of all nursing home reports of abuse are physical 

★ Outside of nursing homes, spouses or partners made up nearly 60% of all  perpetrators of physical abuse 

★ 2/3 elderly abuse victims are women. 

★ Research estimates that roughly $5.3 billion in medical costs come from  treatment of physical elder abuse 

★ elder financial abuse has caused a yearly loss of a minimum of $36.5 billion 

  1. How to Report Elder Abuse  

Knowing the signs of elder abuse can save the lives of many. However, knowing the  signs is not enough. To put a stop to elder abuse, people everywhere need to be more  proactive about reporting what they see and hear.  

One study shows that only 1 out of 25 cases of elder abuse is reported. Knowing more  about elder abuse and how to report it is extremely important if we want to put an end  to this epidemic.  

Informational Websites: 

o The 6 Types of Elder Abuse ( 

o 6 Signs of Elder Abuse in Seniors with Dementia – DailyCaring o A Proclamation on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2022 | The White  House 

o Elder abuse ( 

o Elder Abuse | National Institute on Aging (

Ways to Report Elder Abuse and Support Services:  

▪ Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-752-6200 

▪ National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311) ▪ Eldercare Locator 


▪ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

Office for Older Americans 

855-411-2372 ▪ National Adult Protective Services Association 


▪ Each state has their own hotline for abuse to call, just go online and type:  ________’s (your state) + Elder Abuse Hotline 


Carla, et al. “6 Signs of Elder Abuse in Seniors with Dementia.” DailyCaring, 5 Oct.  2021, dementia/#:~:text=Warning%20signs%20include%3A%201%20Any%20kind% 20of%20threatening%2C,in%20alertness%2C%20or%20unexpected%20depre ssion%20More%20items...%20.  

“Elder Abuse.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health, and Human  Services,  

“Elder Abuse.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,  

Home Instead Senior Care Outer East Follow. “The 6 Types of Elder Abuse.” Share  and Discover Knowledge on SlideShare, types-of-elder-abuse.  

“Nursing Home Abuse Statistics: Get the Facts You Need.”,  25 Oct. 2022, abuse/statistics/. 

“A Proclamation on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2022.” The White House,  The United States Government, 14 June 2022, proclamation-on-world-elder-abuse-awareness-day 

2022/#:~:text=It%20is%20estimated%20that%20approximately%201%20in%2 010,the%20isolation%20felt%20by%20too%20many%20older%20adults.