Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an intentional harm or neglectful act that may lead to the harm of an elder. These acts are most often perpetrated by those closest to the elder: adult children, other family members, spouses, caregivers, or those in trusted positions of authority (a person with power of attorney, guardianship, a payee, interpreter, etc.). In two-thirds of elder abuse cases, the perpetrator is a spouse or adult child.

The dynamics of elder abuse can be identical or quite similar to other forms of domestic violence where a desire for power and control is often the key motivator for the person harming the elder. Greed and financial interests are often motivators in situations of neglect or financial exploitation. Unfortunately, elder abuse almost always occurs in the elder’s place of residence. Elder abuse can include several different Forms of Abuse, and often involves two or more of these forms. There are also signs that are Indicators of Abuse/Abusers that can be observed.

Elders deserve to live their lives free of violence and with kind, compassionate care. Awareness, access to resources and community support can help reduce risk to elderly survivors experiencing abuse. Clackamas Women’s Services is proud to be a part of a partnership here in Clackamas County funded by the Office of Violence Against Women Abuse in Later Life program to bring together our community to assess and create access to services for elders who may be experiencing abuse.

Forms of Abuse

  • Physical Abuse, which can be any contact that intentionally or accidentally causes pain or discomfort. This can include rough handling, improper transfers, pulling or pushing, hitting, punching, etc.
  • Financial Abuse, which includes hiding or taking control of someone’s money, assets, or property without their knowledge or consent.
  • Neglect is an act or lack of action by a care provider. This can include not providing food, heat, clothing, cleanliness, medical care, medications, or medical devices, mobility devices, or services essential to the person’s well being and survival.
  • Abandonment is when a care provider leaves a person who requires assistance or supervision alone for extended periods of time.
  • Sexual Abuse is non-consensual sexual activity with an elderly person.
  • Emotional Abuse includes humiliation, threats, intimidation, ridicule, and denial of civil rights.

Indicators an Elder is being Abused

  • Unexplained or sudden changes in behavior
  • Being afraid to speak in the presence of a particular person
    (partner, family member, caregiver, etc.)
  • Becoming withdrawn (resulting in isolation)
  • Signs of having been restrained
  • Being under or over medicated
  • Missing important possessions, credit cards or documents
  • Signs of not being bathed or otherwise physically cared for

Indicators a Person May Be an Abuser

  • Isolating the elder or speaking for them
  • Controlling and/or dominating the elder
  • Providing conflicting explanations about injuries
  • Portraying themselves as the victim or as the only caring person in the elder’s life.
  • Communicate that the elder is crazy or has dementia to undermine elder’s credibility.
    NOTE: While many elders may face memory loss or dementia, many do not and may be able to very clearly speak for or represent themselves long into later life.

Possible perpetrators might include adult children, other family members, spouses, caregivers, or those in trusted positions of authority (a person with power of attorney, guardianship, a payee, interpreter, etc.).

Clackamas Women’s Services Crisis Line: 503-654-2288
Department of Human Services Aging & Disability Services;
Clackamas County: 503 650-5622
Multnomah County: 503-988-3646

Area Agencies in Oregon for Seniors and People with Disabilities: www.oregon.gov/DHS/spwpd/offices.shtml

National Center on Elder Abuse: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ 

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse