As the aging population increases, law enforcement officers are responding to an increased number of cases of elder abuse. Too often, elder abuse cases are not recognized or appropriately identified as crimes, which results in inaccurate arrest decisions. Further, inaccurate perceptions about aging, victims, perpetrators, and dynamics/causes of elder abuse can lead to inappropriate or ineffective responses, putting victims at a higher risk of harm.
As first responders, law enforcement officers can play a key role in providing an effective response to abuse in later life at the local level. In many cases, law enforcement can use tools already used in domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, and sexual abuse cases to interview victims and gather evidence. Officers can also benefit from learning about abuse in later life and abuse dynamics; appropriate referral resources for intervention and support for older victims; and working collaboratively with other organizations.

Selected Resources

Online Training Modules for Law Enforcement

The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) is pleased to announce a new training resource for law enforcement and other investigators.

NCALL partnered with detectives and prosecutors from across the country to develop a new series of 10-20 minute training modules that are high quality, interactive, relevant, timely, and appropriate for law enforcement from all jurisdictions. The purpose of the modules is to provide training to law enforcement on identifying and investigating cases of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking; to enhance older victims’ safety, and to support offender accountability. Modules can be completed whenever and wherever the user wishes, whether they are on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

The training is divided in to Basic and Advanced courses. Once the user completes a course, they are issued a certificate showing the names of the lessons completed. The courses cover the following topics:


  • Working with Older Victims
  • Dynamics of Abuse in Later Life
  • Neglect Investigations
  • Financial Exploitation – Evidence Collection
  • Intimate Partner Violence in Later Life
  • Working with Other Professionals
  • Sexual Abuse in Later Life
  • Detecting Abuse on Initial Response
  • Cognition and Capacity
  • Stalking in Later Life
  • Working with APS
  • Documenting an Elder Abuse Case
  • Victim-Centered Investigations



  • Substitute Decision Makers
  • Working with Forensic Accountants
  • Financial Exploitation: Theories of Theft
  • Sexual Abuse in Later Life in Facilities
  • Suspects with Dementia
  • Medical Evidence
  • Presenting Your Case to the Prosecutor
  • Unattended Death Investigations
  • Elder Abuse in Tribal Communities
  • Access Issues

For more information, please contact NCALL Justice System Coordinator, Ann Laatsch, at

This training was created by the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life and is supported by Grant No. 2016-TA-AX-K077, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this training are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Self-Assessment Tool for Law Enforcement

The goal of the self-assessment/CCR assessment tools is to encourage intervening agencies and CCRs to candidly and thoughtfully assess their work and the processes they use. The tools are intended to examine and expand collective thinking and response to elder abuse. They help identify existing practices and introduce new approaches in order to strengthen the overall response. They are meant to facilitate and encourage discussion and raise questions about roles, response, coordination, and common purpose. Questions? Please contact NCALL at

Response to Elder Abuse: A Self-Assessment Workbook for Law Enforcement (PDF 4 MB)

Other pages in this section

Civil Attorneys
Civil attorneys and other civil legal system professionals work each day to ensure victim safety and hold offenders accountable for harm to older survivors. Their knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of elder abuse, as well as the legal remedies and non-litigation resources available to older survivors, are critical in developing effective intervention strategies to end elder abuse and prevent further harm to older adults.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocates and Programs
Many older survivors will seek the help of domestic and sexual violence advocates and programs in dealing with the abuse they experience. Older victims can benefit from many of the services traditionally offered by domestic violence and sexual assault programs such as individual and peer counseling, support groups, emergency and transitional housing, and specialized economic and legal advocacy.
Faith Leaders
Many older Americans turn to their faith communities and faith leaders for help when they are experiencing abuse. Older survivors know and deeply trust faith leaders and community members and often reach out for assistance in times of great need. As a faith leader, you can play a critical role in responding to abuse as well as improving access to services and supports for older survivors in your community.
Healthcare Providers
Health care providers are in a unique position to identify and respond to abuse in later life. Often, many older adults, especially survivors, have an ongoing relationship with one or more health care providers. Primary care physicians, emergency room staff, geriatricians, dentists, physical therapists, and other providers each have an opportunity to see injuries suggesting abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or indicators of trauma.
A significant number of reported cases of elder abuse do not progress through the criminal justice system. Whether an elder abuse case is successfully prosecuted may depend on a prosecuting attorney’s familiarity with effective investigation and prosecution strategies. Further, prosecutors must be able to collaborate across disciplines to increase victim identification, to encourage victims to engage with the criminal system, and to ultimately hold more offenders accountable.
Professionals Working in Tribal Communities
In many cultures, elders preserve traditions and share wisdom to help ensure community permanency and balance. Indigenous communities often hold elders in a unique and important social position. The dramatic increase in the number of older individuals has led to concern over the well-being of older adults in these communities.
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