Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse

If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse or you’re unsure about whether or not your situation is elder abuse, please speak to an advocate at the Family Safety Center today at 615-880-1100 to get information or file for an Order of Protection. 

If you know a senior citizen or disabled adult that has been abused or is being abused, you are required by law in Tennessee to report it immediately. To report abuse, you can call Adult Protective Services at 1-888-277-8366

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse refers to acts that harm an older person (60 years old and older). In some states, adults who have disabilities may qualify for protection as well regardless of how old they are. Elder abuse can include physical abusesexual abuseemotional abusefinancial abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment.

Elder abuse can occur anywhere and can affect anyone, but women and “older” elders are more likely to be victims. Elders who already have dementia, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, or are isolated can be at even higher risk of being abused.

Click here to download the Abuse in Later Life wheel

How can I tell if an elder is being abused?

Signs that a senior is being neglected include:

  • They don’t have enough food, clean or appropriate clothes, or they have poor hygiene.
  • They don’t have medicine or medical aids (like eye glasses, walkers, dentures, or hearing aids).
  • They have dementia and are left unsupervised.
  • They are left in their bed with no one to care for them. They may also have bed sores.
  • Their home is dirty, in bad shape, or have fire and safety hazards.
  • Their home doesn’t have basic amenities (like a stove, refrigerator, heat, AC, plumbing, or electricity).

Signs that a senior is being financially abused or exploited:

  • They don’t have basic amenities even though they can afford them.
  • They “voluntarily” give their caregiver lots of money or expensive gifts.
  • Their caregiver controls the senior’s money but doesn’t use it to take care of the senior.
  • They have signed a Power of Attorney or a new will but they don’t understand what they signed or what the documents mean.

Signs that a senior is being emotionally or mentally abused:

  • They have a sudden change of behavior that can’t be explained.
  • Their caregiver isolates the senior and doesn’t let them see certain people, talk to certain people, or spend time with certain people.
  • Their caregiver speaks to the senior in a very aggressive or demeaning way and is uncaring toward the senior.
  • Their caregiver is very controlling of the senior.

Signs that a senior is being physically or sexually abused:

  • They have injuries (like bone fractures, bruises, welts, knots, sores, cuts, or burns) that can’t be explained.
  • They develop a sexually transmitted disease.


If you or someone you love is experiencing elder abuse, call Adult Protective Services in Tennessee at 1-888-277-8366. Dial 911 if a senior citizen is in immediate danger.

If you think that you are in an abusive relationship, look at our safety planning page for ways to increase your safety and our Other Help in Nashville page for community support.

Source: National Center on Elder Abuse