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. Despite strong traditions, tribal communities have not been immune to abuse in later life. Education about its existence, and the design of culturally meaningful interventions, is in its early stage.

Selected Resources

Reclaiming What is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later Life

Cover artwork for Reclaiming What is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later LifeIn 2015, NCALL conducted a listening session on abuse in later life in tribal communities with representatives from tribal governments, service providers, and individuals working closely with tribes, tribal domestic violence coalitions, and federal responders. Based on the input gathered at the listening session, NCALL, in collaboration with Victoria Ybanez of  Red Wind Consulting and Lauren Litton of ISP Consulting, worked together to write the paper, Reclaiming What is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later Life. This paper, a resource for tribes and villages on how to create meaningful responses to abuse in later life, identifies specific guiding philosophies, cultural considerations, and potential action steps tribes and villages might wish to do when addressing abuse in later life in their communities. The paper also includes a number of tools that can be used to enhance conversation and planning such as: sample stories; tips for holding a listening session; scenarios for community and system consideration; scenarios for thinking about elder abuse and elder protection; areas of inquiry; a questionnaire for collecting input; and the Abuse in Later Life Power and Control Wheel.

To access the guide and tools, use the links below:


Red Wind Consulting, Inc.

Red Wind Consulting, Inc. offers training and technical assistance to OVW Tribal Government grantee programs, Tribal College Campuses (grantees and non-grantees); and urban Native and non-Native programs to aid in the development of native/tribal specific options in your response to domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking dating violence and sex trafficking.

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.
Law Enforcement
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.
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