Skip to main content

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult (someone age 60 or older). ~Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


A disabled adult who is either living alone and not able to provide for themselves the services necessary to maintain their mental or physical health or is not receiving those services from their caretaker. ~NC Department of Justice

Who is a Vulnerable Adult?

Any person 18 years of age or older who is physically or mentally incapacitated due to intellectual or developmental disabilities, brain damage, or other illnesses that inhibits sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning their wellbeing.

~Article 6 108A-99 of NC State Legislation

Types of Abuse

Physical: pushing, slapping, hitting, pulling hair, burning, biting, choking/strangulation, using a weapon or item to physically harm you, breaking/smashing things, hurting pets.

Confinement: restraining or isolating you, other than for medical reasons.

Emotional/Verbal: name-calling, putting you down, making you feel worthless, humiliating you, insulting you in private or in public, threatening you or others, isolating you from others, threatening to take your children from you.

Psychological: invalidating your reality, making you feel you are going “crazy”, using actions or words that destroy self-confidence, making you feel everything is your fault, playing mind games.

Financial Exploitation: Illegal or improper use of funds, property, or assets. For example, cashing checks without authorization, misusing or stealing money or possessions, making you sign documents that you are not fully informed about, taking/using/selling your medications, etc.

Sexual: forcing you to have unwanted sexual contact, drugging you or getting you intoxicated in order to have sexual contact, forcing you to do things you are uncomfortable with sexually, unwanted touching.

Passive Neglect: a caregivers failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.

Willful Deprivation: denying an older adult medication, medical care, food, shelter, a therapeutic device or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm


NC Resources

Department of Social Services-Adult Protective Services

Adults with disabilities may be vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. County departments of social services receive and evaluate reports to determine whether disabled adults are in need of protective services.

NC Department of Health and Human Services-Aging and Adult Services

The Division of Aging and Adult Services works to promote the independence and enhance the dignity of North Carolina’s older adults, persons with disabilities and their families through a community based system of opportunities, services, benefits and protections.

Legal Aid of North Carolina- Senior Law Project

Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Senior Law Project provides free civil legal help to North Carolinians who are 60 years of age or older. Priority is given to those with the greatest need. The Senior Law Project helps with wills, powers of attorney, public benefits (Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income Program, Social Security Disability Insurance, etc.), abuse and neglect, unemployment compensation, housing (foreclosure, eviction, subsidized housing, repairs, utilities, etc.), consumer issues and wrongful repossession.

National Resources

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

The goal of the NCEA is to improve the national response to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation by gathering, housing, disseminating, and stimulating innovative, validated methods of research, practice policy and education.

Eldercare Locator

The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting you to services for older adults and their families.You can also reach them at 1-800-677-1116.

The National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center

The ombudsman program is administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA). Long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities.