World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is designated in June of each year. This is a day set aside to recognize that some of our most important citizens are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Elder abuse impacts not just seniors, but anyone over the age of eighteen categorized as an
endangered adult. An endangered adult is a person incapable by reason of mental illness,
intellectual disability, dementia, habitual drunkenness, excessive drug use, or other physical or
mental incapacity of managing or directing the management of the individual’s property or
providing self-care. The definition also includes a person harmed or threatened with harm due
to neglect, battery or exploitation of the individual’s personal services or property.
There are multiple crimes that are committed against endangered adults in our State. One such
crime is Battery. A battery occurs whenever a person knowingly or intentionally touches an
endangered adult in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. The crime increases in severity
depending on the injury caused, if any. Another crime often committed against endangered
adults is Neglect. Neglect occurs when a caregiver for an endangered adult places the cared-for
adult in a situation that threatens the adult’s life or health by failing to provide adequate food,
clothing, shelter or medical care.
One of the most common crimes committed against endangered adults is Exploitation.
Exploitation is committed by a person who knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized use
of the personal services or the property of an endangered adult for the person’s own profit or
advantage. According to a 2011 study, older Americans lose a minimum of $2.9 billion annually
due to elder financial abuse and exploitation.
There are several well-recognized risk factors for elder abuse by caregivers. The risk factors
include: a current diagnosis of a mental health disorder; current abuse of alcohol; high levels of
hostility; poor or inadequate preparations or training for caregiving responsibilities; assumption
of caregiving responsibility at an early age; inadequate coping skills; exposure to abuse as a
child; high financial and emotional dependence upon a vulnerable elder; lack of social support;
or lack of formal services such as respite care.
Elder abuse is most often perpetrated by the victim’s own family members. Roughly 90% of
abusers are family members, most often adult children or spouses. A 2010 study reported that
approximately 11% of the elderly population in the United States had experienced abuse or
neglect in the year prior. Despite this high percentage, we know that elder abuse is largely
unreported. The National Center on Elder Abuse suggests that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse is
actually reported to authorities.
All of this is made more important because elders who experience abuse, neglect, or selfneglect face considerably higher risk of premature death than elders who have not been
mistreated. Older adults who are abused or mistreated are three times more likely to die
within the next decade than adults in the same age category who are not mistreated.
Dubois County Prosecutor, Anthony Quinn notes, “As your prosecutor, I am working hard every day to protect these vulnerable members of our community. One resource we have in this effort is our Adult Protective Services Unit. As a community, I hope we will take the opportunity provided by this awareness day to be vigilant regarding the safety and well-being of elders and the endangered adults among us.”
If you suspect abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an endangered adult, please report it to authorities.
You can call the Indiana APS Hotline at (800) 992-6978. In an emergency, you should call 9-1-1.
For more information about Elder Abuse, risk factors, and how to file a report, visit