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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

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Washington, DC 20530

June 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 6

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is celebrated each year on June 15. It was launched to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.

Although it is defined differently in each state, generally elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult, affecting millions of older adults annually. It is a term used to describe five subtypes: (1) physical abuse, (2) psychological abuse, (3) sexual abuse, (4) caregiver neglect, and (5) financial exploitation and fraud. Older adults are mistreated in multiple settings (homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities) by family members, friends and neighbors, guardians, professionals, and strangers. It is estimated that only one in five of these crimes is ever discovered. The trauma of elder abuse can result in devastating financial loss, the deterioration of physical and psychological health, destruction of social and familial relationships, and premature death.

Elder abuse is a crime. Law enforcement increasingly has been called upon to detect, respond to, and investigate these cases. In some respects, elder abuse is a crime like any other. However, there are some unique challenges and complexities involved in investigating elder abuse that law enforcement may be less familiar with. Adult protective services (APS) can assist law enforcement in these cases. Some law enforcement agencies work hand in hand with APS, but not all law enforcement agencies are familiar with APS.

The Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) at the U.S. Department of Justice, along with its partners, the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the APS Technical Assistance Resource Center (APS TARC), and the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) at the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), collaborated in the creation of a series of three flyers for law enforcement on working with APS. This series of flyers is designed to quickly familiarize law enforcement with what APS is, its roles, and how working with APS on multidisciplinary teams benefits elder abuse investigations.

Read all three flyers:

  1. What is Adult Protective Services?
  2. Adult Protective Services: Your Partner in Combating Elder Abuse
  3. Law Enforcement: Building Stronger Cases with Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams

Law enforcement is making a critical difference in the lives of older adults. Working with APS can strengthen your response to elder abuse, further promoting safety for older residents in your community.

Additional elder justice resources for law enforcement can be found at the Elder Justice Website and the COPS Office Elder Justice Training Portal.

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