Elder Abuse

What is Elder Abuse?

There are many different forms of elder abuse, which can be categorized as abuse, neglect or exploitation. According to the NC Statute 108A-101, abuse is defined as the willful infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or the willful deprivation by a caretaker of services which are necessary to maintain mental and physical health.

Prominence of Elder Abuse

The frequency of elder abuse is estimated to be between 2% to 10%, however many cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation are not reported. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, for every reported case five go unreported.

Contributing Factors

  • External caretaker stressors
  • Level of impairement (physical, emotional and cognitive) and dependency of the older adult
  • Caretaker frustration due to misunderstandings about older adults behaviors
  • Untrained caretaker regarding health care needs and caregiving tasks for the older adult
  • Caretaker mental health or substance abuse problems
  • Inadequate income and poor financial management
  • No respite or other form of support for caretaker
  • Staffing shortages, long hours, overworked staff

What to Look For


  • Bruises, black eyes, lacerations, rope marks, broken bones or fractures, with no or unlikely explanations
  • Change in behavior such as unusual http://www.buyambienmed.com agitation or extreme emotional distress including depression or anxiety
  • Fear or certain people
  • Caretaker refusal to let others see the older adult alone
  • Extremely withdrawn
  • An older adult’s report of being abused
  • Withdrawal from activities of interest


  • Dehydration, malnourishment
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
  • Lack of access to aids such as hearing aides, dentures, glasses
  • Lack of medical attention, including lack of necessary medications or refusal to make necessary doctors appointments
  • Dirty, ill-fitting clothing


  • Sudden loss of large amounts of money
  • Sudden, unexplained changes in POA and/or will
  • Missing valuables or possessions
  • Unauthorized use of an ATM or credit card by others
  • Bills not being paid despite having money to pay the bills
  • Discovery of older adult’s forged signature

What To Do

If you or someone you know suspects elder abuse, call the Cumberland County Department of Social Services at (910) 677- 2389.


Presentation/information collected and presented by Lisa Hughes.

National Center on Elder Abuse (2005). Elder Abuse Prevalence and Incidence. Retrieved on October 15, 2014 from http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/resources/publication/docs/financialstatistics050331.pdf

National Center on Elder Abuse (n.d.) State Resources. Retrieved on October 15, 2014 from http://www.ncea.aoa.gove/Stop_Abuse/Get_Help/State/index.aspx

North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services. (2014). Abuse-Don’t Become a Victim. Raleigh, NC: Lanier, K.


Cumberland County Council on Older Adults was established in 1968 as a non-profit organization and fifty-five years later we remain committed to our original mission of helping older adults living in Cumberland County maintain their independence at home with dignity.


339 Devers Street
Fayetteville, NC  28303
Telephone:(910) 484-0111
Fax: (910) 484-0627