Elder Abuse Research

We Support Groundbreaking Elder Abuse Research in Order to Understand, Prevent, and Treat.

The Lack of Elder Abuse Research Keeps People From Helping to Stop It.

Mrs. Smith came to the emergency department with a fractured left jaw. “I fell,” she told the emergency department physician. This seemed like a reasonable explanation in an 80 year old woman, so he treated her fracture, and sent her home with her son who accompanied her to the visit.

Dr. Anthony Rosen, a Geriatric Emergency Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, noted that falling was the most common explanation given for injuries in older people. He realized that while falls are common, jaw fracture is an unusual type of injury to result from a fall.

Furthermore, he recalled from the literature that in cases of violence, facial injuries such as black eyes most often occur on the left side, because most assailants are right handed. However, he could encounter no such literature in elder abuse.

He wanted to conduct a study to test this hypothesis, but mentors and colleagues suggested he purse a more “traditional” area of research, such a heart attacks or strokes in older adults.

Prioritizing Elder Abuse Research is Prioritizing Elder Safety.

Elders have no agreed markers of abuse.
In children, certain injuries (such as specific fractures in children of certain ages) are diagnostic of child abuse. No such research exists in elder abuse.

Research could change everything.
Had medical research existed to make this diagnosis, the ER doctor would have recognized that Mrs. Smith’s injury was most likely the result of elder abuse, and her son would have been questioned. Further episodes of abuse could have been prevented. Instead, this was misdiagnosed as a fall-related injury.

We believe that research leads to the most effective interventions.
Critical to stemming the epidemic of elder abuse, research helps us understand its causes and consequences so that effective strategies can be developed to treat it or prevent it in the first place.

A fundamental scientific understanding of elder abuse
is critical to helping victims and families.


Elder abuse cannot be identified in emergency rooms if we do not understand what the injuries look like.


Financial exploitation of older people cannot be prevented unless we understand the neurological basis of how the older brain becomes vulnerable.


Strategies to stop abusers and save victims require evidence-based interventions that must be tested scientifically.


We must grow a workforce of young scientists devoted to a career in researching elder abuse.

Our Team Conducts and Supports Research to Understand, Prevent, and Treat Elder Abuse.

We Drive Innovative Research in Elder Abuse
The elderabuse.org team is responsible for some of the most important studies in elder abuse over the last 25 years. For example, we conducted one of the largest studies ever attempted on elder abuse prevalence.

Other studies funded by the National Institutes of Health have demonstrated the adverse outcomes associated with elder abuse, including injury, hospitalization, nursing home admittance, and death. More recently, our worked has turned to identifying characteristic injuries of elder abuse, and to elder abuse that occurs between residents who live in nursing homes.

We are Committed to Supporting Anyone Expanding the Knowledge Base
We are also committed to supporting elder abuse research conducted by others. We do this by funding that research directly and through the encouragement and mentorship of junior physician-scientists who wish to consider an academic career in elder abuse.

Because we are experienced researchers in elder abuse, we are well-positioned to evaluate both the scientific quality of research proposed by other investigators (a process known as peer review) as well as the candidacy of promising young talent in the field who need support to launch a career in elder abuse.

How we use your donations to fund Research

We use your donations to fill important gaps in research: the creation of ideas and the development of research networks. Your donations have enormous leverage because filling these critical gaps allows the people we support to attract much bigger funding.

How Elder Abuse Research Changes Lives

Identifying Accidental Versus Intentional Elder Abuse Injuries
Geriatric Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Tony Rosen is tackling a problem long ago solved by pediatricians in the field of child abuse: when should a physician suspect elder abuse when an elderly person comes to the ER with injuries?

With funding from the National Institutes on Aging, the American Federation for Aging Research, and the Elder Justice Foundation, he has designed an ingenious project in collaboration with the Seattle and Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Using case files in which perpetrators have been sent to jail, he compares the injuries patterns of these elder abuse victims to older adults who come to his emergency department with fall-related injuries. His early work has already shown important differences in the body location and type of injury (e.g. fracture versus laceration) between victims and those who fall accidentally.

This groundbreaking work will lead to earlier identification of victims and the prevention of future elder abuse — and it would not be possible without research funding!

How you can help 

Your donation will help to support elder abuse research in these main areas:

1. Detection     2. Prevention     3. Intervention

Funds can be used to support specific research projects or to support the promising young careers of scientists interested in helping to stop elder abuse.