Aging and Mistreatment: Victimization of Older Adults in the United States

  • Pamela B. TeasterEmail author
  • Debra A. Harley
  • Amani Kettaneh
Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging, volume 9)


Elder mistreatment is a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any trust relationship that causes harm to an older person. Elder mistreatment has cultural implications across the world because some societies value elders while others devalue them. Approaches to define, detect, and address elder mistreatment must be placed within a culturally sensitive context and considered alongside culturally specific risk factors. Examining Caucasians, African Americans, Native Americans, Israelis, Filipinos, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) elders reveals that it is a critical and growing public health and societal problem: approximately 1–2 million Americans, age 65 or older have been abused or neglected by family members and people entrusted with their care and protection. Four of every five cases of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, and/or self-neglect go unreported to authorities. Affecting both sexes, elder mistreatment is highly correlated with disability. Elder mistreatment occurs across different cultures and ethnic groups and other facets of identities, in various settings, and most commonly at the hands of family members. Elder mistreatment most immediately affects individual elders, but prevention and intervention efforts must also include macro-level systemic factors. Appropriate funding and training for professionals is critical. Elder mistreatment is a problem that entails societal values that impede problem solutions: ageism, sexism, individualism, victim-blaming, and familial norms. Without a deep understanding of the complexities involved, elders will increasingly be mistreated.


Intimate Partner Violence Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence Physical Abuse Sexual Minority 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Resources: Websites

  1. Adult Protective Service: (may be found in each state as a link to the state government website)Google Scholar
  2. Administration on Aging:
  3. American Psychological Association—Elder Abuse and Neglect In Search of Solutions:
  4. International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse:
  5. National Abuse in Later Life Resource Directory (2011):
  6. National Domestic Violence Hotline:
  7. National Center on Elder Abuse:
  8. National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse:
  9. National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center:
  10. Survivor Project: LGBT Elder Abuse and Neglect Issues:

Resources: Training Modules

  1. National Center on Elder Abuse:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela B. Teaster
    • 1
    Email author
  • Debra A. Harley
    • 1
  • Amani Kettaneh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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