The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that up to 5 million seniors suffer from abuse every year.
That being said, the exact numbers remain unclear as elder abuse often goes unreported. The WHO estimates that just 1 out of 24 elder abuse cases gets reported.
Elder abuse is a nationwide issue that affects millions of people each year. Researchers and advocates collect data and compile statistics to help better understand this widespread problem. By studying these statistics, families can learn why abuse takes place, which groups of seniors run a higher risk of being abused, and how to keep their loved ones safe.
As of 2018, 52 million people in the U.S. were over the age of 65. Nearly 1 in 10 of these people suffer from elder abuse every year, according to some estimates. Anyone can commit elder abuse, from loved ones to caregivers to other residents in a nursing home. And, elder abuse takes many forms, including physical injuries, financial exploitation, and even sexual battery.
Here are some important emotional elder abuse statistics:
- According to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), caregivers are more likely to emotionally abuse seniors (as opposed to spouses or family members).
- Roughly 54 out of 129 seniors with dementia experienced some form of psychological abuse from their caregivers, according to a 2010 study from the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
- 38% of elders reported they experienced at least one instance of verbal abuse in a 2014 study conducted by Northeastern University researchers.
Here are some important financial elder abuse statistics:
- Seniors lose at least $2.6 Billion a year due to financial abuse — and possibly more due to unreported cases.
- Only 1 in 44 cases of financial abuse is reported, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA).
- NAPSA also notes that elderly victims of financial abuse are three times more likely to die and four times more likely to enter a nursing home.
- Financial abuse can take many forms, including identity theft, use of debit or credit cards, lottery scams, telemarketing or internet scams, or abuse of power of attorney.
- If a senior lives with a child that is unemployed or suffers from substance abuse, they run a greater risk of financial abuse.
Here are some important physical abuse statistics:
- Seniors who were physically abused had a 300% greater risk of prematurely dying compared to those who had not been, according to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Spouses or other partners were the greatest culprits of physical abuse, accounting for nearly 60% of all cases according to a study from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
- In 2013, over 9,700 complaints about nursing home abuse were filed in the U.S. The most common type of complaint involved physical abuse.
Here are some notable statistics about sexual abuse among seniors:
- Sexual abuse remains the least reported type of elder abuse, according to data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- According to the Administration for Community Living, nearly 16,000 reports of sexual abuse in nursing homes have been made since 2000.
- From 2013 to 2016, over 1,000 nursing homes were cited for sexual abuse, according to data from a CNN report. Roughly 100 of these homes received multiple citations during this time.
Important statistics about nursing home neglect include:
- The U.S. Justice Department notes that caregiver neglect is the most unreported type of abuse, with 1 out of every 57 cases being reported. Neglect is also one of the most common types of elder abuse.
- A 2011 study found that 21% of nursing home residents were neglected at least once over a 12-month period.
- Neglect accounted for 14% of complaints against nursing homes, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.