Elder Abuse

Every older adult deserves to be respected and protected. Every older adult has the right to safety and self-determination.

One in ten older adults age 60+ experience abuse annually. Many older adults experience more than one form of abuse or neglect.

Source: American Journal of Public Health, 2010

What is elder abuse? Whether physical, emotional, financial, sexual abuse or neglect, elder abuse is about power and control. As the abuser limits or controls the victim’s rights and freedoms, victims face difficulty making choices because they are afraid of being hurt, humiliated or left alone. Elder abuse is marked by an expectation of trust – the victim trusts the abuser. We know that 66% of abuse is at the hands of adult children/grandchildren and 42% of murder victims are killed by their children.

Who does it happen to? Older Americans of all genders, races, incomes, and cultures experience abuse each year. Elder abuse can happen to anyone whether the older adult is a CEO of a corporation or struggles with dementia. What might surprise you is that family members – adult children, other relatives and spouses – are the abusers in 66% of these cases.

What are the signs of elder abuse? ? It isn’t always easy to recognize elder abuse. Some signs are more obvious than others. See below for a list of signs to be aware of in your life or in the life of someone you care about.

What is SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders? SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders (SAFE) provides confidential, free services to older adults who are experiencing abuse and to those who suspect an older adult is being abused. SAFE teaches professionals and community members about recognizing and responding to elder abuse. The first program of its kind in Baltimore, SAFE brings together social workers, lawyers, therapists and advocates to address elder abuse in Northwest Baltimore and beyond. CHANA founded SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders in 2013.

Learn more about elder abuse »

Elder Abuse: How SAFE Can Help

No victim should suffer in silence.

SAFE’s crisis intervention services encompass short-term immediate assistance and support for urgent safety issues. Regardless of whether someone chooses to remain in her or his home or seeks to leave, we encourage people to discuss their situation with one of our experienced, caring staff members. Together, we will evaluate the danger level and help the client devise a plan for increased safety at home, work, and in the community.

SAFE's crisis intervention services include:

  • Education and guidance about legal options and resources
  • Support to help victims secure needed community resources for increased safety
  • Legal advocacy to review the legal process, make informed decisions, and investigate pursuing civil and criminal legal remedies
  • Referrals to therapists, attorneys and medical professionals
  • Assistance to maximize financial resources
  • Shelter

Prepare for the possibility of an incident happening.

No one can control an abuser's behavior. At SAFE, we work with every client to develop a safety plan, whether or not the client will stay in the relationship. Each plan is individualized. There are factors to consider inside and outside of the home when seeking safety.

Justice and healing for survivors.

Through our legal advocacy program, SAFE seeks justice for victims of elder abuse. SAFE's team of attorneys, paralegals and legal advocates provides information and support, including legal services, referrals and court accompaniment.

  • Legal services: Discuss the legal process; provide information to help make informed decisions; and pursue civil and criminal legal remedies.
  • Referrals: Make referrals to volunteer attorneys or private attorneys when necessary
  • Court accompaniment: Accompany clients to court proceedings; provide legal guidance; offer support throughout the entire legal process and advocate for the client.
  • Jewish legal process: Work closely with Beit Din, the Jewish arbitration system.

Begin to heal and rebuild lives.

SAFE's trauma-informed counselors help clients understand the dynamics of elder abuse and discuss the vast array of feelings associated with it. SAFE's trauma-informed mental health professionals listen and offer helpful tools and skills on ways to process the complex emotions, heal from trauma, connect to community resources and move forward with life.

Gain sense of hope and empowerment.

In a safe nurturing environment, support groups allow participants to learn about the dynamics of elder abuse. Group counseling also provides victims with ample support, not only from peers (other victims) but also from the mental health professional leading the group.

Groups are led by trauma-informed professionals. CHANA provides a range of support groups throughout the year.

CHANA provides a variety of shelter options for victims, including a specially-designed safehouse equipped to meet the needs of older adults.

At SAFE, the role of consultation takes many forms. SAFE offers training and community education programs tailored especially for professionals, caregivers and older adults. These outreach programs aim to increase professional and public awareness and response about elder abuse and neglect. Specific programs include CEU-credit training for professionals, specialized training for caregivers, public awareness programs and presentations at national, regional and local conferences.

  • 2019 Organizational Achievement Award from the Maryland Gerontological Association
  • 2018 Governor's Citation Award
  • 2018 NPEIV Founder's Award from the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma

As a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, CHANA understands the needs of the Jewish community across all denominations. CHANA has experience working within the Jewish arbitration process, in addition to the civil court system.

10 Warning Signs


Do you recognize any of these signs of elder abuse?

  1. Injuries such as bruises, sprains, broken bones or scratches – especially when the explanation doesn’t fit the injury
  2. Changes in behavior such as depression, withdrawal or fear
  3. Changes in regular social activity, such as missing social events
  4. Changes in living arrangements, such as previously uninvolved relatives or family moving into the home
  5. Changes in finances, such as the cancellation of services or unpaid bills
  6. Changes in hygiene
  7. Suicide attempts
  8. Things disappearing from the home
  9. Signs of neglect, such as no food in the house, being left alone for long periods, not having glasses, hearing aids, medications or proper clothing
  10. An older adult says he or she is being neglected, exploited or abused. It is important to take them seriously even if blatant signs are not visible.

Abuse is Never Okay


Abuse creates dangerous situations and isolates an older person from people who can help. Many cases of elder abuse are not reported because older adults are afraid or unable to tell police, family or friends. Victims often have to decide whether to tell someone they are being hurt or continue being abused by someone they depend upon or care for deeply.

Ask yourself:

  • Is someone treating your body in a way that makes you uncomfortable?
  • Do you feel like you are losing control of your money?
  • Are you afraid of anyone in your life?

Help is available.

  • Live without fear
  • Be treated with respect
  • Be safe
  • Make your own decisions

We are dedicated to helping people who have experienced elder abuse find safety and healing. Through counseling, legal advocacy, support groups and shelter, SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders provides a safe and supportive environment for victims, while educating communities as part of the movement to end elder abuse.

At CHANA, we stand with you.

“Stand up in the presence of a person with gray hair, show respect for the old”

– Leviticus 19:32

For Help: 410-234-0030

A Jewish Perspective

Jewish values promote care and support of our elders. SAFE’s work is informed by Jewish values and traditions and respects each client’s faith and belief system. SAFE cares for all clients, regardless of faith. Together, we recognize that the most important step toward preventing and responding to elder abuse is to recognize that no one – regardless of age – should be subjected to violent, abusive, humiliating or neglectful behavior.

Resources
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