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There are many resources available for information about elder abuse, law and aging. We encourage you to visit some of these websites:

General Information »

What is abuse?


  • Information from the National Center on Elder Abuse:

Federal definitions of elder abuse first appeared in the 1987 Amendments to the Older Americans Act, however, these definitions are guidelines. Each state defines elder abuse according to its unique statutes and regulations, and definitions vary from state to state. Researchers also use varying definitions to describe and study the problem.

Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of the following types of mistreatment that are committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship (for example, a spouse, sibling, child, friend, or caregiver).

Institutional abuse generally refers to any of the following types of mistreatment occurring in residential facilities (such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, group home, board and care facility, foster home, etc.) and is usually perpetrated by someone with a legal or contractual obligation to provide some element of care or protection.

Elder abuse can affect people of all ethnic backgrounds and social status and can affect both men and women. The following types of abuse are commonly accepted as the major categories of elder mistreatment:

  • Physical Abuse—Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.
  • Emotional Abuse—Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
  • Sexual Abuse—Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, coercing an elder to witness sexual behaviors.
  • Exploitation—Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
  • Neglect—Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Abandonment—The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

Although there are distinct types of abuse defined, it is not uncommon for an elder to experience more than one type of mistreatment at the same or different times. For example, a person financially exploiting an elder may also be neglecting to provide appropriate care, food, medication, etc.  Visit for additional information.

  • Elder Abuse Fact Sheet by Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Elder Abuse infomation from Ageing and Life-Course Section, World Health Organization


  • What is Elder Abuse? (PDF) Elder Abuse Forensic Center
  • California State Definitions (PDF)
  • What Should I Know about Elder Abuse? by State Bar of California

    Reporting Abuse




    Help for Survivors



    Overview of Elder Abuse - Printable Handouts from the Center of Excellence »



    Printable "Imagine A World Without Elder Abuse" Posters

    These files require Adobe Reader.

    Imagine A World

    You are welcome to download these PDF files to print and distribute these posters.

    These files require Adobe Reader.

    Promising Practices »

    We've gathered tools and resources that we think would be helpful to many people in their work addressing elder abuse and neglect.

    California Elder Justice Coalition News and Updates

    California Innovative Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Practices Webinar

    Booklet of California Civil and Criminal Codes Related to Elder Financial Abuse

    Report for Sonoma County's Elder and Dependent Adult MDT

    368+ Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Mobile App for CA Law Enforcement

    Unlicensed Facility Fact Sheet and Screening Tool 

    Senior Center Protection Plan 

    Establishing an Elder Abuse & Neglect Screening Protocol in a Dental Teaching Clinic

    Creating an Elder Abuse Forensic Center

    California Elder Justice Coalition News and Updates

    California Elder Justice Coalition (CEJC) works to protect the rights, independence, security, and well being of vulnerable older adults in California by improving the response of the legal, protective services and long term support systems. The CEJC News and Updates e-newsletter includes CA state and local news, national news, recently released research/reports, resources, and spotlights on promising practices. CEJC News and Updates: Dec. 2012-Jan. 2013 


    California Innovative Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Practices Webinar

    This free webinar highlighted:

    •  "Ombudsman and Long-Term Care Facilities - Preparing for Emergency Situations" by Karen Jones, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Services of San Luis Obispo County
    •  "Ombudsman Response to Unlicensed Residential Facilities" by Molly Davies, MSW, WISE & Healthy Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Los Angeles County

     View the recording:

    Download the presentation slides (PDF)

    Presented of Feb. 21, 2013 by the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect and made possible by a grant from the Archstone Foundation.


    Booklet of California Civil and Criminal Codes Related to Elder Financial Abuse

    This publication offers an overview of the law, issues and practical concerns of elder financial abuse from both a civil and criminal perspective.

    Civil Elder Financial Abuse for Prosecutors/Criminal Elder Financial Abuse for Civil Lawyers (pdf) downloadable booklet was produced by Institute on Aging with material contributed by Helen Karr, Esq. and Steve Riess, Esq.


    Report for Sonoma County's Elder and Dependent Adult MDT Incorporates County-wide Survey, Research on Regional MDTs, and Literature Review

    A Collaborative Approach to Multidisciplinary Teams in Sonoma County

    (pdf) by Adult and Aging Services Division, Human Services Dept., County of Sonoma CA (2012)

    Sonoma County’s Elder and Dependent Adult MDT has been in existence in its current form for over ten years, and in that time many new collaborative ideas and practices have been developed. This report provides recommendations to improve the Sonoma County MDT, and thus improve services for our clients. Research for this report includes information gathered from current publications, observations of other California county MDTs, a survey of local Sonoma County agencies, and interviews with key informants.


    368+ Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Mobile App for CA Law Enforcement



    The following California-based program highlights are from the Archstone Foundation Elder Abuse & Neglect Initiative, Phase II


    Unlicensed Facility Fact Sheet and Screening Tool
    by WISE and Healthy Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

    Not only do residents in unlicensed facilities not have access to regulations that have been designed to preserve their rights in licensed facilities, they are also more susceptible to abuse and neglect.  This fact sheet and screening tool allows for quick identification of unlicensed care facilities, and referral information to those agencies that handle complaints in these settings.  The tool is designed for and has been distributed to many organizations and agencies including but not limited to:  IHSS workers, APS, ombudsmen, fire fighters, police officers, building and safety staff, regional planning, regional centers, hospital social workers, and department of mental health patients’ rights advocates.

    Initial Considerations and First Steps (MS Word):

    Unlicensed Facility Factsheet and Screening Tool (MS Word):

    Thank you to Molly Davies, MSW for permission to share these resources!  

    Senior Center Protection Plan
    by the Fair Lending Project for Seniors

    Fighting scams at senior centers takes a multidisciplinary team effort that is comprehensive instead of piecemeal.  Our project develops a county-wide awareness campaign about financial exploitation occurring in senior centers and a step-by-step plan that cities can use to protect seniors from harm.  A coalition of senior center directors, the District Attorney’s Office, local legal services agencies, city policy planners, private bar, senior advisory boards, and real estate and life insurance professionals works together to accomplish our goals. 

    Initial Considerations and First Steps (MS Word):

    Sample Materials:

    Thank you to Shawna Reeves, MSW for permission to share these resources!

    Establishing an Elder Abuse & Neglect Screening Protocol in a Dental Teaching Clinic
    by University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry
    This UCLA School of Dentistry project focuses on developing a screening tool and reporting protocol for pre-doctoral dental students to use while working in the dental clinic. The screening tool, tailored for use in a dental teaching clinic, is also appropriate for use in private practice. Given that dentists are mandated reporters, there is a strong reason to adopt this screening tool and protocol in dental teaching clinics throughout California.

    Initial Considerations and First Steps (MS Word): _Classroom_to _Clinic_UCLA.doc

    Sample Materials:

    Thank you to Melanie Gironda, Ph.D. for permission to share these resources!

    Creating an Elder Abuse Forensic Center
    by University of California, Irvine, Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect and the Orange County Elder Abuse Forensic Center

    Typically, an elder abuse case requires weeks to months of phone calls among agencies with very distinct, and at times conflicting, perspectives and goals.  Recognizing disconnections between the many disciplines that address elder abuse, the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Program in Geriatrics and agencies from social services and the criminal justice system piloted a groundbreaking approach to this problem: the nation’s first Elder Abuse Forensic Center (EAFC) in 2003.  EAFC members meet regularly to determine concrete actions that can be taken on behalf of the client agency (e.g., Adult Protective Services, Long-Term-Care Ombudsman, Law Enforcement) to address the needs of a specific case.  Members use their expertise and agency resources to provide direct help with the case. 

    Since the Orange County Elder Abuse Forensic Center was established, we have been approached by other communities interested in starting their own Elder Abuse Forensic Centers and assisted in the creation of two new EAFCs.  Based on these experiences, we created a Manual and 20-minute companion DVD to describe how an Elder Abuse Forensic Center (EAFC) works and to help agencies develop a preliminary structure to create an EAFC in their own communities.

    For more information, visit our Elder Abuse Forensic Center page

    Information by Professional Discipline »


    • Elder Mistreatment (online book by National Academies Press) by Bonnie & Wallace, Eds, 2003
    • The Availability and Utility of Interdisciplinary Data on Elder Abuse  NCEA
    • Another look at the helpfulness of occupational groups in the discovery of elder abuse and neglect (Abstract) Blakely and Dolon, Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect 2001
    • Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams: A Replication Manual (pdf) ABA 2005
    • Findings from an Elder Abuse Forensic Center. (Abstract) Wiglesworth, Mosqueda et al., The Gerontologist, 2005
    • HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

      Although releasing medical information to APS is not a HIPAA violation, many medical providers are under the mistaken belief that it is. This letter was written by the federal government’s Office for Civil Rights in response to these concerns. It states that medical providers are required to release up-to-date medical information without an authorization or court order to Adult Protection Services.

      To allow covered entities to appropriately share information in this context [of protecting individuals against abuse and neglect and domestic violence], and to harmonize the Privacy Rule with existing state and federal laws mandating uses and disclosures of protected health information, 45 CFR §512(a) permits covered entities to comply with laws requiring the use or disclosure of protected health information, provided the use or disclosure meets and is limited to the relevant requirements of such other laws. Where and to the extent that such disclosures are required by law, no authorization or court order is required for the disclosure.
      Click here to download the PDF of this letter.

    Law Enforcement




    Social Services

    Recruiting/Managing Volunteers

    • Learning Points from National Conference on Volunteering and Service, 2007
    Type of Abuse »

    Physical/Sexual Abuse

    On-line Resources for Medical Images

    • Health Education Access Library
    • The Health Education Assets Library (HEAL) is a digital library of multimedia teaching resources for the health sciences. HEAL is a component of the National Sciences Digital Library.


    Financial Abuse

    Domestic Violence


    Neglect by Self or Others


    Abuse in Institutions

    For ideas and materials to help raise public awareness, visit our Public Awareness page.

    Resources can be comforting