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Elder Abuse

Elder abuse refers to any of several forms of mistreatment of an older person by someone who has a relationship with that person, such as a spouse, friend or caregiver. Kansas recognizes the six following types of elder abuse:


Non-accidental use of physical force that results in bodily injury, pain or impairment. Physical mistreatment is a severity level 6, person felony.


Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an older person.


Willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, coercion, intimidation or other verbal or non-verbal abusive contact.


Willful or non-willful failure by the caregiver or another person to fulfill his/her caretaking obligation or duty. Neglect is a Class A person misdemeanor.


Neglectful or abusive conduct of an older person directed at him/herself that threatens the person’s health or safety.


Unauthorized use of funds, property or any resource of an older person.


  • Withholding by caregiver of security or affection
  • Bruises, burns and cuts
  • Dirty, torn or insufficient clothing
  • Dehydrated or malnourished appearance
  • Signs of confinement (does not leave home)
  • Anxiety, confusion, withdrawal or depression
  • Lack of cleanliness or grooming
  • Sudden withdrawals or closing of bank accounts
  • Overly medicated or overly sedated
  • Expressions of shame, embarrassment or fear
  • Pain indicated when touched
  • Unpleasant odors coming from house or room
  • Outside at odd hours and exposed to danger
  • No movement or activity from the home

Don’t be afraid to seek help immediately if someone may be at risk.

You may contact SA/DVC (or)

The Kansas Department on Aging (KDOA) 1-800-842-0078

Or visit the web site at:



What do studies say?

Prevalence: Defined as the total number of people who have experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation in a specified time period.

  • According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom the depended for care or protection. (Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in an Aging America. 2003. Washington, DC: National Research Council Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect.)
  • Estimates of the frequency of elder abuse range from 2% to 10% based on various sampling, survey methods, and case definitions. (Lachs, Mark S., and Karl Pillemer. October 2004. “Elder Abuse,” The Lancet, Vol. 364:1192-1263.)
  • Data on elder abuse in domestic settings suggest that 1 in 14 incidents, excluding incidents of self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities. (Pillemer, Karl, and David Finkelhor. 1988. “The Prevalence of Elder Abuse: A Random Sample Survey,” The Gerontologist, 28:51-57.)
  • Current estimates put the overall reporting of financial exploitation at only 1 in 25 cases, suggesting that there may be at least 5 million financial abuse victims each year. (Wasik, John F. 2000. “The Fleecing of America’s Elderly,” Consumer Digest, March/April.)
  • It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect,exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about 5 more go unreported.(National Elder Abuse Incidence Study. 1998. Washington, DC; National Center on Elder Abuse at American Public Human Services Association.)

Incidents: Defined as the number of new cases indentified or reported at a given point in time-usually one year.

  • In 1996, nearly 450,000 aged 60 and over were abused and/or neglected in domestic settings. Factoring in self-neglect, the total number of incidents was approximately 551,000. (National Elder Abuse Incidence Study. 1998. Washington, DC: National Center on Elder Abuse at American Public Human Services Association.)
  • A University of Iowa study based on 1999 data found 190,005 domestic elder abuse reports from 17 states; 242,430 domestic elder abuse investigations form 47 states; and 102,879 substantiations from 35 states. Significantly higher investigation rates were found for states that require mandatory reporting and tracking of reports.(Jogerst, Gerald J,, et al. 2003 “Domestic Elder Abuse and the Law,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 93, No. 12:2131-2136.)
  • In 2000, states were asked to indicate the number of elder/adult reports received in the most recent year for which data were available. Based on figures form 54 states, the total number of reports was 472,813. (A Response to the Abuse of Vulnerable Adults: The 2000 Survey of State Adult Protective Services. 2003. Washington, DC: National Center on Elder Abuse.)
  • In 2003, state Long Term Care Ombudsman programs nationally investigated 20,673 complaints of abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation on behalf of nursing home and board and care residents. Among seven types of abuse categories, physical abuse was the most common type reported. (National Ombudsman Reporting System Data Tables. 2003. Washington, DC: U.S Administration on Aging.)

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) serves as a national resource for elder rights advocates, adult protective services, law enforcement and legal professionals, medical and mental health providers, public policy leaders, educators, researchers, and concerned citizens. It is the mission of NCEA to promote understanding, knowledge sharing, and action on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

For additional information and current data, visit

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