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What is Abuse in Later Life?

Forms of Abuse The types of abuse may include: physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; financial exploitation; neglect; stalking; and dating violence.  Domestic and sexual abuse in later life are subsets of elder abuse.

Age:  The age range of elder abuse victims is generally defined in state statutes; often starting at age 60 or 65.  Domestic violence and sexual assault organizations generally use age 50 and older for Abuse in Later Life programs.  Older women age 50–62 are often not eligible for financial assistance programs such as TANF or Social Security.  These women may face significant financial barriers that limit the options available to them.  In addition, some populations with limited resources and/or access to health care may have a shorter life expectancy.  Therefore, programs for victims age 50 and older may be needed to reach these individual. 

Gender:  The majority of older victims are female.  However, a significant portion of older victims are male.

Relationship:  Many older victims have ongoing relationships with an expectation of trust with their abusers, such as spouse/life partner, adult children, other family members, caregivers, and fiduciaries.

Location: The abuse occurs in the person’s home (a private dwelling in the community or a facility, such as a nursing home, unlicensed group home, or assisted living facility).

Dynamics: Often abuse is a pattern of coercive tactics to gain and maintain power and control in the relationship.