Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder Abuse is any knowing, intentional or negligent act that causes harm (or a serious risk of harm) to a vulnerable adult perpetrated by a family member, caregiver or trusted friend. Elder abuse can happen to anyone-you, your family, friends or neighbors.

Rhode Island law requires anyone who suspects an elder is being abuse to make a report to the Office of Healthy Aging 401-462-0555.

The Rhode Island Senate convened the “Special Task Force to Study Elderly Abuse and Financial Exploitation” You can read their findings and recommendations here.

1 out of every 10 people over the age of 60, who live at home, report being abused.

You don’t have to prove abuse, that’s the job of the professionals!


If a Senior is not safe at home call:

Office of Healthy Aging

Neglect or Abuse in a facility call:

Department of Health Facilities Regulation

RI Attorney General Medicaid Fraud & Patient Abuse or Neglect Unit
274-4400 x2269

RI Long Term Care Ombudsman


It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. Elder abuse happens in all cultures and races. It can happen in your home, in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or in a hospital. Abusers are often a spouse or adult children.


Risk Factors:

  • Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia
  • Mental illness or substance abuse (victim, abuser, or both)
  • Social isolation
  • Poor physical health


If you don’t feel safe or are being abused-TELL SOMEONE-the police, your doctor, a family member or friend.

If you know, or suspect, an elder is being abused notify the police. Call 911 if danger is imminent.

Each city or town has its own Senior Citizens Police Advocate who has received specialized training to work with Seniors.


Types of Abuse and How to Spot the Red Flags:


Financial Exploitation: the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit


Examples: Taking elders money, jewelry, car or home for abusers own use

Red Flags: Large financial gifts, caregiver in charge of elders money, newly signed property transfers when an elder doesn’t understand what they signed


Physical Abuse: Causing physical pain or injury to an elder, or restraining an elder

Examples: Hitting, pinching, shoving, tying someone down, locking someone in a room, over medicating

Red Flags: Bruises, cuts, broken bones, bed sores


Neglect & Abandonment: deserting or failing to provide care, food, shelter, health care, or protection for an elder

Examples: Lack of basic hygiene, not enough food or medication, person with dementia left alone

Red Flags: Dirty or unbathed, weight loss, bed bugs or rodents in the home, elder found wandering lost, medication mismanaged


Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, or distress on an elder through verbal or nonverbal acts,

Examples: bullying, intimidation, verbal insults, fear of retaliation, treating an elder as a child,

Red Flags: Elder is overly concerned about what their caregiver will think or do, caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling,


Self-neglectAn inability to understand the consequences of one’s own actions or inaction, leads (or could lead) to harm or endangerment

Example: Refusing needed health care, refusing to maintain a safe home

Red Flags: Frequent calls to 911 but refuses to go to the hospital, hoarding, weight loss, dehydration,


Sexual Abuse: Sexual contact of any kind without an elders permission.

Examples: Physical sex acts, showing an elder pornography,  or forcing the elder to undress

Red Flags: Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, bruises, tears, urinary tract infection


Elder Scams

Millions of people are victims of scam artists every year. The scam artists are very smooth with their con game. They know that Elders make great victims because they are less likely to report the crime to police. **Never give out your bank account information, credit card number or social security number to anyone who has called you on the phone or sent you an email.**


Scam artists are committing a CRIME-notify the police immediately!

  • The IRS will NOT call you and demand a payment over the phone without first sending you a bill in the mail
  • Your bank will NOT call, email or send regular mail to you to ask for your account information-they already have that information
  • You will NOT get rich, keep your child/grandchild/friend from being arrested, or buy a miracle cure by giving out ANY of your financial information


If an offer sounds too good to be true, check with the RI Attorney General’s Consumer Protection unit to see if it may be a scam.


Elder Identity Theft

You worked hard your whole life and paid your bills on time. You have perfect credit. You are a perfect target for an identity thief!

Read your bank statements then shred them

Get off the junk mail list (Opt Out Prescreen )

Check your credit report and place a credit freeze


New Friends, also known as, The “Sweetheart Scam

Of course, you are a wonderful person to know and to be around. Be cautious of the new friend, or romantic partner, who seems to be all that you were ever looking for. Any person who inserts themselves into your life-happy to “help” you get to the bank, fix your roof, cut your grass or drive you to the doctor

The person that appeared as if sent by the Universe just for you may have other intentions. If your new friend asks you to add them to your bank account so they can help you write out checks or to name them as your Power of Attorney– Think Twice! Sadly, that person may not have your best interest in mind.



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