Elder Abuse Prevention and Education Programs

According to the National Center on Aging, approximately one in ten Americans over age 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse. Furthermore, financial exploitation of seniors costs between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion annually.

Elder abuse is a continuing problem in the United States, and many prosecutors’ offices are stepping up to address the challenge. As described in a guide developed by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) click here and in a study of five Elder Abuse Forensic Centers click here, multidisciplinary strategies involving prosecutors, law enforcement, medical professionals and/ or social services have played a key role in identifying, prosecuting, and preventing various forms of elder abuse.

In the following section, we present a small selection of the various strategies that individual offices are using to identify and prevent elder abuse in their communities.

California – Elder Abuse Prevention Efforts
Marin County District Attorney’s Office

The Marin County District Attorney’s Office collaborates with community-based organizations to address elder abuse and is a member of multidisciplinary team composed of law enforcement, prosecution, and public sector agencies charged with protecting and safeguarding seniors. The office also coordinates a Rapid Response Team that renders immediate assistance and participates in the Marin County Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST).

To view additional information about these programs, click here.

Massachusetts – Senior Protection Seminar
Middlesex District Attorney’s Office

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, along with the local police chief, local bank executives and managers, and supervisor of the local Senior Protective Services organization, hosted a senior protection seminar to discuss ways that seniors can avoid being victims of scams and elder abuse. The seminar included tips on how to handle unsolicited calls for donations, how to protect personal information from identity theft, and where seniors can go for helpful information or services.

To view a news article about the seminar, click here.

New York – New York State Committee for the Coordination of Police Services to Elderly Persons

The Committee developed a law enforcement toolkit containing guidance, investigative tools, and resources that law enforcement officers can use to identify, investigate, and help prevent elder abuse.

To view the toolkit, click here.

Pennsylvania – Senior Center Seminar
Delaware County Prosecutor’s OfficeDelaware County Prosecutor Katayoun Copeland and Senior Exploitation Unit officials gave a seminar on fraud prevention and identity theft for senior citizens as part of the Chester Senior Center’s Community Awareness Day. They additionally developed a pamphlet for the community containing contact information for services as well as various safety tips.

To view a news article about the seminar, click here.

Virginia – Peninsula Elder Abuse Forensic Center
Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office

The mission of the center is to create a safe community in which older and incapacitated adults are empowered and free of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Members of the center include a prosecutor and victim witness advocate from the Commonwealth attorney’s office, individuals from adult protective services, law enforcement, victim-witness advocates, mental health agencies, domestic violence centers, the Center for Sexual Assault Survivors, the Peninsula Agency on Aging, geriatric services, forensic nursing, neuropsychology and forensic accounting.
The center only accepts case referrals from its team members and meets twice per month.

To view a news article about the center, click here.

Virginia – Southwest Virginia Senior Abuse Task Force
Wise County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office

Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp III formed a Senior Abuse Task Force comprised of law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers, and community partners in an effort to prevent abuse and financial exploitation of seniors and incapacitated adults. Since forming the task force, there has been a significant increase in the number of referrals of elder abuse cases to law enforcement, and therefore, individuals prosecuted for crimes against seniors.

The task force participates in a variety of activities which include training for law enforcement, attorneys, medical professionals, and others who may work with older adults; discussions with the Virginia General Assembly representatives about legislative proposals for elder abuse; victim advocates providing information about services available to seniors; and preparation for potential training sessions to be made available to the public.

To view a news article about the panel, click here.

Additional Resources
To help address and learn more about elder abuse, the Stetson University College of Law explored almost three decades of appellate decisions to identify how different courts have treated both victims and defendants of elder abuse click here. They examine the basic elements that comprise financial exploitation throughout the country and conclude with resources for prosecutors and strategies on how to stop those perpetrating elder abuse.