Elder abuse is any intentional, knowing, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. There are some form of elder abuse laws in all states but they differ from state to state.

Broadly defined, elder abuse may be:

  • Physical Abuse—inflicting physical pain or injury on a elder individual including hitting, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
  • Exploitation—the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse—inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Abandonment—desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

Some warning signs to look out for are bruises, burns, fractures, broken bones, abrasions, tense and stressful relationships, unusual weight loss or gain, medical needs not tended to, depression, withdraw from normal activities, sudden change in financial situations and frequent arguments with a caregiver.

For RCW’s on Elder Abuse Laws in Washington state, please click here.

Click here to view the National Center on Elder Abuse website.