Elder Abuse Policy and Advocacy

We Engage in Elder Abuse Policy and Advocacy to Encourage Better Laws and Policies which Improve Government and Societal Response To Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse Victims’ Voices Are Not Heard

Mrs. Brown is an 87 year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease who can no longer be cared for by her daughter and requires nursing home care.

Her loving family researched facilities in her community exhaustively, making sure they selected one with adequate staff, training, and no history of elder abuse.

The facility administrator told her that there was no history of staff abuse at the home. Her daughter was satisfied she had found the right place, and Mrs. Brown was admitted to the dementia unit of the facility.

Indeed, the staff seemed caring and vigilant. However, within a week of admission, Mrs. Brown was pushed by another resident with dementia in the dining room and broke her hip.

What Mrs. Brown’s daughter did not realize is that the greatest danger of physical abuse in nursing home is not from staff, but from other residents.

The fields of Intimate partner violence and child abuse have a long history of advocates and constituents serving as loud voices to bring attention to their causes; unfortunately elder abuse has had no such unified activism. Often these advocates are survivors of child abuse or domestic violence, but older victims don’t survive, or if they do, will be too sick or frail to tell their story.

Advocating for Better Elder Abuse Policy can Amplify the Voices of Victims and Change Systems That Allow or Perpetuate Suffering

Outdated Policies Increase Risk of Abuse
Stronger laws and regulations are needed to protect nursing home residents and empower loved ones to be fully informed about the quality of their health care. Until we have stronger advocacy, Mrs. Brown and other nursing home residents will remain at risk.

Advising, Rallying and Protecting
Elder abuse is only recently recognized a societal problem; victims are too frail (or perish) so they have no voice to rally others. We advise governments, organizations, courts, and other entities on the best evidence-based policies and laws that can be brought to bear on the problem of elder abuse.

Increasing Awareness of Elder Abuse
More than 1 in 10 older adults will experience elder abuse, yet this epidemic remains hidden. Victims will remain in the shadows until advocacy movements increase pressure for better policies.

Laws and Policies have not Kept Pace with an Aging Society

There are multiple examples of how and why better policies are needed to acknowledge and address the problem of elder abuse. Here are a few ways we can do better:


Physician licensure in some states requires child abuse training (even for non-pediatricians). There is no such requirement for elder abuse.


Laws are needed to afford better consumer protection to older people who may be unable to read or understand sales and marketing materials because of visual problems or hearing loss.


Tort reform in many states has left elder abuse victims unable to receive proper compensation for serious injuries, including physical abuse and sexual assault.

We Advocate for Better Laws & Policies to End Elder Abuse

Speaking for those without a Voice

Members of elderabuse.org have testified before national, state, and local legislatures seeking policy advice on elder abuse, including testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Aging.

Some of our board members have visited the White House on multiple occasions to share our experience with elder abuse and inform policy. We have addressed the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and produced research to help formulate international policies.

We have also lectured internationally to bring our expertise to Universities in Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America, as well as throughout the United States. Others have served as expert witnesses in civil and criminal matters related to elder abuse.

Age Associated Financial Vulnerability
Drs. Duke Han at USC and Dr. Mark Lachs at Weill Cornell have attempted to influence elder abuse policy by coining the term “Age Associated Financial Vulnerability” in an important policy article in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The work was covered by the lay press internationally; subsequently Drs. Han and Lachs have worked with several federal agencies and private not for profit organizations attempting to protect older consumers.

How We Use Your Donations to Fund Elder Abuse Policy and Advocacy

Older adults and their loved ones deserve strong, thoughtful laws to protect those experiencing abuse and prevent it from happening in the future. Your support will advance our efforts to develop and promote sophisticated policies at the local and national levels.

How Elder Abuse Policy and Advocacy Changes Systems

Recognizing the Source of Abuse and Translating Knowledge into Policy Change
Weill Cornell Geriatrician Dr. Mark Lachs has been studying resident to resident abuse in nursing homes, or RREM. With funding from National Institutes on Aging, National Institute of Justice, and the New York State Department of Health, his group has conducted the largest study of its kind – over 2000 residents in 10 facilities. Rates of any form of RREM were astonishingly high – as much as 20% in a calendar month. Dr. Lachs also identified risk factors for RREM, such as living on a dementia unit and low staffing levels.

Armed with this information, Dr. Lachs is developing and testing staff interventions to prevent the misunderstood, or not fully understood forms of elder abuse. Dr. Lachs’ work on resident to resident elder mistreatment has come to the attention of many state and federal agencies and policy makers, who are now recognizing the scope of this previously under-reported problem.

Dr. Lachs has also visited the White House twice to discuss elder abuse, testified before the United States Senate Committee on Aging on the topic, and served as a consultant to the World Health Organization.