As the number of older adults increases nationally, communities face growing concerns about the abuse of their elders. Elder abuse can be difficult to spot, and it often happens at the hands of family caregivers. These resources can help tribes educate their communities about elder abuse and ensure their elders are honored and protected.
Overview of elder abuse
Elder abuse is mistreatment of elders that can include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial exploitation, like stealing an elder’s money
- Spiritual abuse, such as taking away an elder’s ceremonial items
Learn more about the types and root causes of elder abuse and strategies for addressing it:
- Elder Abuse in Indian Country: An Annotated Bibliography (PDF) (941 KB, 42 pp)
Defines the types of elder abuse, causes, and prevention strategies, with special attention given to issues unique to American Indian and Alaska Native AI/AN populations
- Reclaiming What Is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later Life (9.41 MB, 66 pp)
Offers strategies for preventing elder abuse and compassionately and effectively responding to abuse
Needs in Indian Country
Respect for elders is a traditional tribal value. Like other communities, however, tribal communities experience elder abuse. Challenges common in Indian Country, such as historical trauma, loss of tradition, and high stress among family caregivers due to difficulty accessing support, may contribute to this issue.
Program examples and resources
These resources can help tribes educate their communities about elder abuse and build strong prevention programs to ensure their elders are honored and protected.
How to report suspected abuse
These fact sheets highlight tribal programs that offer elder abuse prevention services.
- Adult Services Program: Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PDF) (118 KB, 2 pp)
- Elder Abuse Prevention Interventions Program: Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (PDF) (93 KB, 2 pp)
- Elder Abuse Prevention: Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin (PDF) (136 KB, 2 pp)
- Elderly Protection Team Department: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (PDF) (159 KB, 2 pp)
- Elderly Services Program: Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (PDF) (94 KB, 2 pp)
Preventing elder abuse
- Fact sheet—Best Practices in Elder Abuse Prevention: A Snapshot of Research Findings (PDF) (76 KB, 1 p): Provides an overview of elder abuse and recommends prevention strategies
- Elder Abuse Prevention Resources in Indian Country Webinar: National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI): Describes the types of resources NIEJI provides related to elder abuse prevention and how to find technical assistance and resources
Recognizing Elder Abuse
- Information from the Administration on Community Living – What is Elder Abuse? Summarizes the types of elder abuse and how to identify the warning signs.
- Webinar materials–Elder Justice in Indian Country: Discusses the signs of possible elder abuse and what to do if you see it
- Tribal elder abuse codes: A collection of tribal codes on elder abuse from across Indian Country, compiled by the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative, which other tribal programs can use as models
- National Center on Elder Abuse: Offers information about elder abuse prevention research, training, practices, news, and resources
- National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative: Provides information to assist tribes in preventing elder abuse and creates culturally sensitive resources for tribes, health care providers, and law enforcement to help protect elders
- Center for Rural Health: Connects rural and tribal communities with tools and information to promote the wellbeing of elders