Prevention of Elder Abuse

Five forms of elder abuse are defined: Physical abuse, verbal or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and neglect (Lachs & Pillemer, 2015). Self-neglect is not considered to be a form of elder abuse. Elder abuse can be prevented. The Arizona Attorney General website, under the authority of Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is an excellent reference for senior abuse prevention. This website contains several American Association of Retired Persons-based recommendations for preventing elder abuse (Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, n.d.).

Individual Recommendations

  • Stay socially engaged as you age; maintain good relationships with family and increase your network of friends.

    Maintaining close ties with relatives and friends decreases the chance of elder abuse

  • Keep in contact with old friends and neighbors if you move to a new address or move to live with relatives.
  • Have a “buddy system” with a friend outside the home.
  • Ask friends to visit you at home; even brief visits can allow for observations of your well-being.
  • Accept new opportunities for activities. Group activities can bring new friends.
  • If you are able, participate in community activities (consider volunteering opportunities or becoming a member of an organization.
  • Stay organized. Keep your belongings neat and orderly. Make sure others are aware that you know where everything is kept.
  • Take care of yourself. Keep regular medical, dental, barber, hairdresser, and other personal appointments.
  • Get legal advice about arrangements you can make now for possible future disability, including powers-of-attorney, guardianship, or conservatorshisp. Discuss your plans with your attorney, physician, and family members.
  • Do not live with a person who has a background of violent behavior or alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Do not leave your home unattended. Notify police if you are going to be away for a long period. Don’t leave messages on the door that you are going away. Let a loved one know what your travel plans are loved
  • Do not leave cash, jewelry, or prized possessions lying in visible places in the house.
  • Do not accept personal care in return for transfer or assignments of your property or assets unless a lawyer, or another trusted person acts as a witness to the transaction.
  • Do not sign a document unless someone you trust has reviewed it.
  • Do not allow anyone else to keep details of your finances or property management from you.

Family Recommendations

  • Maintain close ties with your older relatives.
  • Stay updated of changes in their health and ability to live alone.
  • Discuss with your older relatives their wishes regarding health care, terminal medical care alternatives, home care in the case of inability to care self, and disposition of your personal assets.
  • Find sources of help, keep a list, and use them. Many services are available in your community including housekeeping, home-delivered meals, senior recreation, day care, respite care, and transportation assistance.
  • With the older person’s consent, become familiar with his/her financial records, bank accounts, will, safe deposit boxes, insurance, debts, and sources of income before he/she becomes disabled. Talk and plan together now about how these affairs should be handled.

    Families can be proactive in preventing elder abuse. Do not offer to give personal care to your elderly relative unless you know, understand, and can meet the responsibilities involved 

  • Plan as a family who will take responsibility for such matters as power-of-attorney or in-home care-giving if an aging relative becomes disabled.
  • Closely examine your family’s ability to provide long-term in-home care for a frail and increasingly dependent relative. Consider the family’s physical limits.
  • Do not forget about yourself and plan how your own needs will be met when your responsibilities increase.
  • Discuss other sources of care, including nursing homes or other relative’s homes if your own situation changes.
  • Discuss your plans with friends, neighbors, and other sources of support before your responsibilities become a burden. Ask for their understanding and emotional support – you may need them.
  • Teach other family members about emergency response agencies and services available in case of sudden need.
  • Plan ahead. Do not wait until you elderly relative moves in.  Examine the specific needs  of the elderly as part of your planning. You should consider access, safety, containment, and special needs.
  • Consider the following questions: Do you need a first-floor bathroom, bedroom, or entry ramp? Will carpets or stairs be a problem? Do you need a fenced yard to prevent the loved one from wandering away? Does your kitchen allow you to prepare special diets or store medications properly? Can you move the person safely in case of fire? Is there a plan in place for emergencies?
  • Do not ignore your limitations or over-extend yourself, passive neglect can result.
  • Do not hamper the older person’s independence or intrude unnecessarily upon his/her privacy. Provide a private telephone if you can and make other changes to assure his/her privacy if possible.
  • Do not label your efforts as failure if home care is not possible and you must seek an alternative placement for you loved one.


Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. (n.d.b). Elder abuse information and training guide. Retrieved from

Lachs, M. S., & Pillemer, K. A. (2015). Elder abuse. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(20), 1947-1956.

Last updated: June 7, 2020 at 16:46 pm by
I. M. Abumaria, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Version 2.00