EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

While EDs are well positioned to identify incidents of elder abuse, providers often miss the opportunity. Experts say providers find only one in every 24 cases, and that the pendulum must swing toward over-detection. Investigators acknowledge elder abuse is difficult to confirm, given that disease processes can explain some of the signs. Further, older adults are often reluctant to report abuse because they fear they will be removed from their homes or separated from their caregivers. Given the complexity involved with addressing the issue, investigators recommend EDs establish a multidisciplinary approach to the problem.

  • Providing great care to a victim of elder abuse requires time and setting up a circumstance whereby one can actually communicate with the patient reliably and alone.
  • While most states require providers to report suspected cases of elder abuse to Adult Protective Services, there is little evidence this requirement has incentivized more reports in the same way a similar requirement has prompted providers to report cases of suspected child abuse.
  • Investigators advise ED leaders to train and empower every member of their team to identify potential signs of elder abuse.