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Elder Abuse

September 27, 2019

Elder Abuse

At Hitchman Fiduciaries, our top priority is to support you by carrying out you or your loved one’s wishes as accurately and compassionately as possible. We are a team of experienced and licensed fiduciaries dedicated to protecting your interests, reducing confusion and anxiety, and providing support at a very difficult season of life.

In our field of expertise, we believe it’s especially important for our clients and their families to understand and educate themselves on a very sensitive issue — elder abuse. Every month, one in 10 older adults worldwide experience some form of abuse. But with only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse reported, the actual level of abuse is likely to be much higher. And with an increasingly aging population in the United States and worldwide, the issue is consistently escalating.

What is Elder Abuse?

Abuse can happen to anyone—no matter the person's age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited.

Specific definitions vary on what elder abuse really is and those definitions continue to evolve. The WHO refers to elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship, where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.”  It can be verbal, physical, psychological or emotional, sexual, or financial and this form of neglect can be either intentional or unintentional.

Types of Abuse

There are many types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse happens when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping.
  • Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the older person.  Restricting that person from seeing close friends and relatives is another form of emotional abuse.
  • Neglect occurs when the caregiver does not try to respond to the older person's needs.
  • Abandonment is leaving a senior alone without planning for his or her care.
  • Sexual abuse involves a caregiver forcing an older adult to watch or be part of sexual acts.

Financial Abuse happens when money or belongings are stolen. It can include forging checks, taking someone else's retirement and Social Security benefits, or using another person's credit cards and bank accounts. It also includes changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy or title to a house, without permission from the older person. Financial abuse is becoming a widespread and hard-to-detect issue. Even someone you've never met can steal your financial information using the telephone or email. It’s wise to be very careful about sharing any financial information over the phone or online, as it’s impossible to know how that information will be used.

Healthcare Fraud can be committed by doctors, hospital staff, and other healthcare workers. It includes overcharging, billing twice for the same service, falsifying Medicaid or Medicare claims, or charging for care that wasn't provided. Older adults and caregivers should keep an eye out for this type of fraud.

What Are Signs of Abuse?

You may see signs of abuse or neglect when you visit an older person at home or in an eldercare facility. Some of these signs could include:

  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Seems depressed or confused
  • Loses weight for no reason
  • Displays signs of trauma, like rocking back and forth
  • Acts agitated or violent
  • Becomes withdrawn
  • Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys
  • Has unexplained bruises, burns, or scars
  • Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes
  • Develops bed sores or other preventable conditions

If you see signs of abuse, try talking with the older person to find out what's going on. For instance, the abuse may be from another resident and not from someone who works at the nursing home or assisted living facility. Most importantly, get help.

Who Can Help?

Elder abuse will not stop on its own. Someone else needs to step in and help. Many older people are too ashamed to report mistreatment or they're afraid if they make a report, it will get back to the abuser and make the situation worse.

If you think someone you know is being abused—physically, emotionally, or financially—talk with the person when the two of you are alone. You could say you think something is wrong and you're worried, offer to take them to get help at a local adult protective services agency or other supporting agencies in the area.  Many local, state, and national social service agencies can help with emotional, legal, and financial problems as well.

The Administration for Community Living has a National Center on Elder Abuse where you can learn about how to report abuse, where to get help, and certain state laws that deal with abuse and neglect. Go to for more information. Or, call the Eldercare Locator weekdays at 1-800-677-1116.

Most States require that doctors and lawyers report elder mistreatment. Family and friends can also report it. Do not wait. Help is available.

If you think someone is in urgent danger, call 911 or your local police to get help right away.


For More Information About Elder Abuse and Where to Get Help

Eldercare Locator

1-800-677-1116 (toll-free)


National Center on Elder Abuse

1-855-500-3537 (toll-free)


National Adult Protective Services Association



National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 (toll-free, 24/7)

1-800-787-3224 (TTY/toll-free)


U.S. Department of Justice


1-800-877-8339 (TTY/toll-free)

Call Hitchman Fiduciaries for Guardianship You Can Trust!

At Hitchman Fiduciaries, it’s our privilege to walk beside you as you make important decisions for your family's future, help ensure your wishes are observed to the fullest extent, and give you added peace of mind. No matter how difficult your situation may seem, you can trust our experience and competence to get results for you. Together, we can achieve your goals and afford you the confidence and tranquility you deserve.

We are conveniently located in beautiful Newport Beach, CA. Because of our years of experience, we thoroughly understand your situation and the challenges you may be facing. If you have any questions at all or to learn more, don't hesitate to call us today at 949.200.9712 and someone from our team will get in touch within 24 hours.


Author: Lee Ann Hitchman, CLPF/MBA and Licensed Professional Fiduciary