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Elder abuse is any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a person that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable adult.

An estimated 10 percent of older adults — 5 million people — are victims of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation and other forms of mistreatment. However, detecting and preventing this is difficult. Many victims are isolated and do not know where to turn for redress. Many never report an incident. Community-based initiatives can help. For more information, see GIA’s Elder Abuse Issue Brief.

Funders interested in supporting community-focused elder abuse programs can learn from initiatives such as these:

The National Center on Elder Abuse’s Promising Practices Database is a searchable, online tool that can help locate program models and information resources around the country related to elder abuse prevention, intervention, and public education. This could be a good starting point to learn about innovative programs that your organization could consider supporting. The National Center on Elder Abuse website offers information regarding research, training, best practices, news and resources on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation to professionals and the public.

The Education Development Center in Waltham, MA, is serving as a coordinating center for an initiative to convene leading national experts in four states to develop, test, and evaluate a prototype model of intervention to assess and address elder mistreatment. The initiative is supported by a $775,000, two-year grant by The John A. Hartford Foundation. The intervention will ensure that older people seen in hospital settings, including emergency rooms, will be assessed for potential mistreatment and receive appropriate treatment and referral.

In Memphis, the Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA) program works to protect older adults throughout Shelby County age 60 or over who are victims of physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse or neglect. With support from the Plough Foundation, CREA brings together a multidisciplinary team of professional victim advocates and care coordinators who share case details, with the informed consent of clients. In 2016, CREA served 469 victims of elder abuse, two-thirds of whom were female and more than half of whom were African American. Neglect, financial abuse, and physical abuse account for two-thirds of all cases.

The Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California received a $245,646, three-year grant from the Archstone Foundation to support the Teaching Caregivers How to Prevent Elder Abuse via Technology (Tech Prevent) program. Tech Prevent is an online intervention program to prevent elder mistreatment and improve the quality of relationships between family caregivers and the older adults to whom they provide care. The program will consist of a series of eight videos available on FCA CareJourney, a multi-component and assessment-driven online service for family caregivers created by the Family Caregiver Alliance with support from the Archstone Foundation.

Dr. Tony Rosen, an emergency medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, received a two-year, $227,000 grant from the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation to launch a Vulnerable Elder Protection Team. This innovative, emergency department-based, multi-disciplinary unit was initially funded by a small grant from The John A. Hartford Foundation. It will be a comprehensive intervention available 24/7 to improve identification, comprehensive medical and forensic assessment, and treatment for potential victims of elder abuse or neglect. In addition to physicians and social workers, the team will have access to psychiatrists, legal and ethical advisers, radiologists, geriatricians, and security and patient-services personnel.

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