Elder Abuse Prevention

The first step in elder abuse prevention is awareness. The International Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse established Worl d Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) in 2006. The day is recognized annually on June 15th. The purpose of this day is to increase understanding of issues surrounding elder abuse. Many advocates of older adults utilize this day to conduct outreach and distribute informational material to their community.

What is elder abuse?

  • Physical Abuse - Is the use of force causing harm or pain to an individual, which includes but not limited to) hitting, kicking, pinching, slapping, shoving, shaking, and burning. Other forms of physical abuse involve the inappropriate use of medication or physical restraints.
  • Financial Abuse/Exploitation - Involves wrongfully taking or using an older adult’s funds or property through theft, s cams, fraud, or predatory lending.
  • Psychological Abuse - Causing emotional pain through verbal assaults, threats, or harassment. Perpetrators intimidate, humiliate, or attempt to isolate their victims.
  • Sexual Abuse - Is non-consensual sexual contact of any kind including, contact with an individual unable to consent to such contact - for instance, if they suffer from dementia and are unable to understand.
  • Neglect - Is an individual failing to meet the needs of an older adult who is under their care. This includes not providing essential things a person needs, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, or personal hygiene.
  • Self-Neglect - Involves failure of a person to meet vital self care needs, putting them at risk of harm for their safety and/or health.

To report suspected abuse or to get help…

Abused edlerly man photo in black and white.In the community

  • Call 1-800-332-6347 or,
  • Contact the Local Adult Protective Services (APS)

In Nursing Homes or Assisted Living Facilities
  • Contact the Local Long Ter m Care Ombudsman
    (OmbudsmanLocation.pdfFind an Ombudsman ); or,
  • Contact the DHMH Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ)

Photo courtesy of International Network
for the Prevention of Elder Abuse

Maryland Information & Resources

Project SAFE 
(Stop Adult Financial Exploitation)

Each year, hundreds of cases of financial exploitation of older and vulnerable adults are reported in Maryland. The results can be devastating — emotionally and financially. This, however, is estimated to be only a fraction of the thousands of cases that go unreported in our state. Project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) offers training for the financial and law enforcement communities on how to detect and report financial exploitation, and educates older Marylanders about how to avoid financial exploitation.

Project SAFE is a public/private partnership of 14 different organizations: 

Various materials produced by SAFE are available, including: training materials for employees of financial institutions and law enforcement officials, an educational brochure for the public, and a video to help educate older adults how to avoid financial abuse. You can download the Model Reference Manual for Financial Institution Employees here. It is updated to reflect that financial institutions will become mandatory reporters of financial exploitation of seniors on October 1, 2012.

For more information on Project SAFE please use our Comment form.

“Training & More”

Assessing Decisional Capacity Curriculum

The Rush University Medical Center and the ABA Commission on Law and Aging have released an interactive educational curriculum on assessing the capacity of older adults, funded by The Retirement Research Foundation. The course is aimed at physicians but is valuable and useful as well for other health care clinicians and students.

The curriculum features six modules – the importance of evaluating patients’ capacities; key principles and practices; the evaluation process and content; specific capacities and situation; when to conduct an evaluation yourself and when to refer, and working with courts in guardianship proceedings. The curriculum also includes videos, a pocket reference card, a glossary, and a resource list, and is downloadable.

For more information visit the Rush University Medical Center’s website.

National Resources

Research & Reports

MD Stakeholders’ Workgroup on Elder Abuse Prevention:

In November 2011, Maryland convened a statewide Stakeholder’s Group to develop a coordinated response to the problem of elder abuse.

Contact Person: Lydia Williams, 410-767-1100, lydial.williams@maryland.gov.