Preventing Elder Abuse: Ideas for Older Adults and People of All Ages

One of the best protections against abuse, neglect and exploitation is open communication and conversation. 

Abusers and exploiters try to isolate their victims. They want to prevent others from noticing what is happening or trying to help.

Frequent, caring communication in person and over the phone can help reduce isolation. This helps loved ones feel supported and provides an opportunity for them to speak up if something is not right.

You can also encourage your loved ones to keep in touch with other family members and friends, or to volunteer or join a nearby social group. 

Neighbors, friends, family, and social groups all help to form a caring circle of protection around vulnerable people. Open communication gives loved ones somewhere to turn when life becomes difficult. 

Simply being older does not mean someone is unable to make good decisions. However, people of all ages make better decisions when they have caring people to talk to about their choices.

It is important to be supportive and understanding if someone you know is experiencing abuse or exploitation. For example, if someone loses money to fraud or a scam, it is important to remember that criminals have become very convincing and sophisticated. Someone of any age may fall victim to a scam, no matter how intelligent or capable they are, if the scammer catches them in the right moment. 

What are some ways I can help prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation?

  1. Learn how to recognize the signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and how to report it.
  2. Keep in touch with loved ones and talk to them about how to prevent crime and how to avoid scams.
  3. Volunteer at a nursing home or other facility and build friendly, supportive relationships with the people there.
  4. Talk to your bank, credit union, or other financial institution and encourage them to train their staff on how to prevent and report fraud, scams, and elder financial exploitation. They can use a free program such as AARP’s BankSafe Training.
  5. If you are part of a social group or religious organization, ask your leaders to talk about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation at the next meeting or service. If you would like our Elder Rights Center staff to present to your group, please contact us at (561) 684-5885 or
  6. Encourage local, state, and national leaders to make addressing elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation a priority. For advocacy tools and support, check out the resources from National Council on Aging and Justice in Aging.