Protecting Vulnerable Adults: Government Invests Seed Money To Fight Elder Abuse

The Office for Victims of Crime has provided $3.42 million seed money to respond to elder abuse and financial crimes throughout the country. This initiative was put into action because of the increase of cases of elder abuse, which includes financial exploitation.

The goal of the awards is to better protect older Americans by "improving identification of elder abuse and strengthening the response to victims through innovative technology, closer interagency collaboration and enhanced legal services, among other approaches." Grants were awarded to eight organizations, including several local legal services groups. Office of Public Affairs, Department of Justice, "Justice Department Invests $3.42 Million in Fight Against Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation," (Oct. 20, 2017).

Commentary and Checklist

Approximately one in 10 Americans ages 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates show that as many as five million elders are abused each year. One study showed that only one in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. If you suspect a vulnerable adult is being abused, call 9-1-1 or your elder abuse reporting hotline.

What are some signs of elder abuse, both physical and financial?

  • Physical signs include bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, sudden change in alertness, unusual depression
  • Bedsores, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss, unattended medical needs
  • Financial issues can include a sudden decline in the standard of living; the appearance of a new "caregiver" or "friend" who appears to be controlling the elder's decisions; a new romantic relationship, especially online; or a caregiver who objects to money being spent on the vulnerable adult's care.
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