Elder Abuse

Elder abuse should never be tolerated in any form for any reason. Abuse can be: physical; mental, emotional or verbal; sexual; neglect; self-neglect; and/or financial. Specific descriptions of various forms of elder abuse can be found in the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study (1988).

If you are concerned that an at-risk adult might be the victim of abuse, knowing the possible signs and indicators can help. Changes in the adult’s behavior or emotional state may suggest a problem. Examples are behaviors suggesting agitation, apathy, withdrawal, fear or anxiety. Additionally, adult’s comments about being mistreated, or the refusal of the caregiver to allow you to visit the adult alone could be indicators of abuse. Some indicators of abuse, neglect and exploitation include:

Physical Abuse:

  • Pushing, striking, slapping, pinching, beating
  • Burning or scalding
  • Hitting with a hand or instrument
  • Rough handling
  • Improper use of restraints or medications
  • Intentional injuries such as bruising, burns, broken bones, or pain
  • Injuries not consistent with medical diagnosis or explanation
  • Forcing someone to remain in a bed or chair
  • Forcing someone to remain in a room (including locking them in)

Emotional Abuse:

  • Threatening someone with violence, nursing home placement, abandonment, or neglect
  • Verbal abuse including: threats, insults, harassment, name calling, intimidating
  • Isolating from friends, family, or activities
  • Ignoring or excessively criticizing; giving the silent treatment
  • Making derogatory or slanderous statements
  • Repeatedly raising the issue of death
  • Excluding the older person from decision making when he or she is capable and wants to be included

Sexual Abuse:

  • Any nonconsensual sexual contact
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Forced viewing of sexually explicit materials
  • Sexual assault or rape
  • Sexual harassment

Financial Abuse or Exploitation:

  • Misuse of financial resources for another’s gain
  • Missing money or valuables
    • Scam Red Flags include being asked to pay money to receive a prize, pressure to act immediately, scare tactics, insistence on payment by gift card or wire transfer, get-rich-quick promises, and promises to recover other scam losses for a fee
  • Credit card charges the individual did not make
  • Unusual activity in bank accounts, depleted bank accounts
  • Legal documents (such as will or power of attorney) signed by a person who does not understand what s/he is signing
  • Checks/documents signed when person cannot write; signatures on checks that don’t resemble the person’s signature
  • Eviction notice arrives when person thought s/he owned the house
  • Unpaid bills (rent, utilities, taxes) when someone is supposed to be paying them for the person



  • Failure to provide or purposely withholding shelter, clothing, food, water, medical care, or other basic needs
  • Malnourishment, dehydration, or weight loss inconsistent with medical diagnosis
  • Ignoring, leaving the person alone for long periods of time
  • Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions: rats, roaches, human or animal waste on floors or furniture; house filled with trash, rotting floors, falling ceiling, no toilet
  • Untreated medical conditions or injuries
  • Lack of clothing or inappropriate clothing for weather
  • Extreme dirtiness of bedding or lying in own waste
  • Decayed teeth or lack of needed false teeth
  • Lack of needed glasses or hearing aids
  • Bed sores or rashes


  • Lacking food or basic utilities
  • Failing to meet daily basic needs
  • Not recognizing his/her limitations
  • Refusing to take medications
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Wearing soiled or ragged clothes

Abusers may be prosecuted. In Georgia, the Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act and the Georgia Protection of Elder Persons Act of 2000 allow for prison sentences of up to 20 years. A 2020 report indicated that 36.4% of abusers are women and 33.3% are men. Men are identified
as perpetrators at a higher percentage in cases of abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional), and women are more often the perpetrators in cases of abandonment, neglect and exploitation. See NAMRS, Adult Maltreatment Report 2020.

If you suspect abuse, take the abuse victim to a safe place. Once you and the victim are in a safe place, call law enforcement (911). In Georgia, you can also report elder abuse by calling 1-866-55AGING (1-866-552-4464).

The Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 800-715-4225 can provide access to 24/7 mental health, substance and emergency services.

If you suspect abuse, you can do something about it. First, recognize the signs. Then, report the situation so it can be investigated. The problem can’t be solved until it is reported.

Any setting: Call local law enforcement if abuse, neglect or exploitation is suspected (911).

Community setting

If the suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation occurs in a person’s home or other community settings then contact the Division of Aging Services’ Adult Protective Services Central Intake in Metropolitan Atlanta 404-657-5250 or outside of Atlanta at 1-866-552-4464. Your report is confidential and the law protects anyone from a lawsuit who reports abuse. You may also report online: https://fw1.harmonyis.net/GADASLiveIntake/

Long-Term Care Facility or Residence including: Nursing Facility, Personal Care Home (including assisted living), and Community Living Arrangement

Elder abuse in a long-term care setting must be reported and investigated. O.C.G.A. § 31-8-80 et seq. Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR) is responsible for investigating reports in these facilities.

Call (404) 657-5728 or (404) 657-5276 or the toll-free number 800-878-6442.

To file a complaint about a licensed health care facility or service provider, call 1-800-878-6442. Leave your contact information for a return call from our staff. You may also fax your complaint to 404-657-5731.
Facility Locator: http://www.gamap2care.info/

Long-Term Care Ombudsman

If you or someone you know needs an advocate in any of the long-term care facilities, contact the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman who is authorized to advocate for residents in any licensed long-term care setting. To find your local long-term care ombudsman, call 1-866-552-4464 or call the Office of State Long-term Care Ombudsman at (404) 463-8383 or 1-888-454-5826.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Locator: http://www.georgiaombudsman.org/where-we-are-located/



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