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Elder Abuse Victimization: What We Know from Research- and Practice-Based Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2020
51 pages

This report by the Center for Victim Research (CVR) summarizes evidence from research and practice related to the needs of or services for victims of elder abuse, defined as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an older adult (age 60 or older) by a person in a relationship of trust.”


As the population of elder individuals has increased, so too have reports of elder abuse, including psychological, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and neglect. Current research indicates that at least 1 in 10 older adults experienced elder abuse in the past year (Acierno et al., 2010); however, a significant number of these victimizations were not reported to or identified by social service agencies or law enforcement agencies. Effects of elder abuse can include psychological, physical, and/or financial harms. There is little research into what works to prevent elder abuse or means of intervention to mitigate harms and prevent further abuse. This field of victim services needs consistent definitions and valid, reliable measures of elder abuse to accurately estimate prevalence. Victimization risk factors associated with one or more forms of elder abuse include gender, race, mental and physical health, and marital status. Social support has been identified as one of the few well-documented elder abuse protective factors. The use of multidisciplinary teams, victim support groups, and counseling are promising interventions for elder abuse. More research is needed on effective interventions for various types and consequences of elder abuse. 200 references