Tips for Older Adults

If You Feel You Are Being Abused or Neglected

Your personal safety is most important. If you can safely talk to someone about the abuse such as your doctor, a trusted friend, or a member of the clergy who can remove you from the situation or find help for the abuser, do so at once. If your abuser is threatening you with greater abuse if you tell anyone, and if the abuser refuses to leave you alone in a room with others who could help, you are probably afraid to let anyone know what is happening to you. A good strategy is to let your physician know about the abuse. The physician has a legal obligation to report the abuser and to help you find safety.

If you are able to make phone calls, you can call protective services or a trusted friend who can help you find safety and also find help for the person who is abusing you.

Every person, no matter how young or how old, deserves to be safe from harm by those who live with them, care for them, or come in day-to-day contact with them. -  American Psychological Association

How to Receive Help

  • Be Aware of Your Rights
    If you are living in a facility, most have a Resident's Bill of Rights, which often promotes the right to be treated with dignity. Also, in many cases, abuse can be a criminal act.
  • Be Informed
    Learn about the signs of elder abuse and the availability of community services and agencies that can help. Know your rights as a resident.
  • Make Contact
    If you are an elder who is being abused, neglected, or exploited, tell at least one person. Tell your doctor, a friend, or a family member whom you trust. Other people care and can help you.
  • Overcome Your Fears
    Do not be afraid to tell a health care worker that you do not like how you, or another resident is being treated or touched. Write down what happened, so that you will remember the details when you report it to someone in administration.
  • Stay Connected
    Isolation is the breeding ground for abuse. Social isolation increases the risk of becoming a victim of abuse. Maintain and increase your network of friends and associates. Develop a mutual reassurance "buddy system", contacting one another at least once per week.