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Abuse Statistics

It is difficult to say how many older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited, in large part because surveillance is limited and the problem remains greatly hidden.

Official state statistics can vary widely. Currently, there is no uniform reporting system. In most of the states, adult protective services programs serve vulnerable adults regardless of age. Some serve only elders. A few serve only adults age 18-59 who have disabilities that keep them from protecting themselves.

The National Center on Elder Abuse periodically collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on abuse of older persons in the United States. Findings from the often cited National Elder Abuse Incidence Study suggest that more than 500,000 Americans aged 60 and over were victims of domestic abuse in 1996. This study also found that only 16 percent of the abuse situations are referred for help: 84 percent remain hidden.

While a couple of studies estimate that between 3 percent and 5 percent of the elderly population have been abused, the Senate Special Committee on Aging estimates that there may be as many as 5 million victims every year.

One consistent finding, over a 10 year study period, is that reports have increased each year.

More Information

On the Front Lines: State Data Sources


Arkansas Department of Human Services


Iowa Department of Human Services


Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children

North Carolina

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services


Ohio Office for Children and Families


Oklahoma State Department of Health


Pennsylvania Older Adult Protective Services Training Institute

South Dakota

South Dakota Adult Protective Services


Washington Aging and Adult Services Administration


Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services


Wyoming Department of Family Services

Last Updated: April 6, 2005  Top


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