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Home > Press Releases > Elder Abuse Facts and Statistics

What is Elder Abuse?

  • The National Center of Elder abuse defines elder abuse as intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or a “trusted individual” that harm, or may harm, a vulnerable elder.
  • Elder abuse comes in many forms including physical, emotional or sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, abandonment or self-neglect.

How prevalent is elder abuse?

  • Each day in Massachusetts, there are 54 reports of suspected elder abuse, according to figures reported in 2011 by Mass Home Care, an elder services advocacy group. That’s a 31% increase (20,000), from the previous year, in the number of elder abuse cases in the state.
  • In Boston alone, there were over 7,000 cases of suspected elder abuse reported from 2008 to 2012, according to Ethos, who is responsible for Protective Services for the city of Boston.
  • The US Department of Justice states that in 2009, 11 percent of older people responding to a phone survey reported experiencing at least one form of mistreatment.
  • According to the Office of Justice Programs, approximately 4.6 percent of adults over age 60 reported experiencing some form of emotional mistreatment in 2011, and only 8 percent of these individuals reported the event to the police.
  • The National Elder Mistreatment study found that 56 % of cases of emotional abuse and 76 % of cases of physical abuse are perpetrated by family members.

How do you report a case of suspected elder abuse?

  • The Boston Elder Protective Services Program at Ethos assists people 60 years and older  who are at risk and are suffering from either from self-neglect, neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or financial exploitation .
  • People in the community are encouraged to contact the Boston Elder Protective Services Program at Ethos if they are concerned that an elder is at serious risk. Certain professionals are mandated by law to report suspected cases of elder abuse, neglect and self-neglect, including physicians, social workers, psychologists, nurses, police, firefighters. All reports remain confidential.
  • If you, or someone you know, suspect an elder might be a victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation, contact the Boston Elder Protective Services Program at Ethos 617-522-6700 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), the Elder Abuse Hotline 800-922-2275 (available after normal business hours and on weekends) or the Police by calling 911.
  • The Professionally trained caseworkers at Ethos investigate reports of neglect or abuse, and then create a service plan to remedy the situation quickly. While the elder is the primary client, Ethos caseworkers also confer with caregivers and healthcare professionals to assess needs. In keeping with an adult’s right to self-determination, Protective Services fully respects elders’ choice to accept or refuse Services intervention, provided they have the capacity to make their own decisions.
  • The Elder Protective Services team works to remedy specific problems in the least restrictive manner possible. The intention is not to be punitive, but rather to assist elders and their caretakers in resolving situations with the least amount of disruption to the elder’s life.
  • If the elder is in imminent danger, Boston Elder Protective Services caseworkers will respond immediately to insure the elder’s safety. In cases of serious abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, the Elder Protective Services team will refer the matter to the Suffolk County District Attorney.