According to the Administration of Aging (AoA), “Every year hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected and exploited by family members and others. Many victims are people who are older, frail and vulnerable and depend on others to meet their most basic needs”. Elder abuse occurs in many different forms. It is the intentional or neglectful acts by an individual or individuals that lead to harm of an older adult. The most common types of Elder Abuse are outlined below:
- Physical Abuse – the non-accidental infliction of physical pain, injury or impairment against an older adult. May include hitting, slapping, shoving, restraints, confinement or use of drugs to cause harm.
- Emotional Abuse – may include verbal intimidation through yelling or threatening, humiliation, ridicule, blaming or scapegoating. Non-verbal abuse can include ignoring the elder, isolation, inducing fear.
- Sexual Abuse – physical contact with an elderly person without their consent. Such contact can include physical sexual acts, showing the elder pornographic material, forcing the elder to watch sexual acts or forcing the elder to undress.
- Neglect – failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation, can be intentional or unintentional. Neglect can include lack of medical care, dehydration, malnutrition.
- Financial Exploitation – the unauthorized or coerced use of an elderly person’s funds or property by another individual.
All 50 states have passed some form of elder abuse prevention laws. Laws and definitions of terms may vary considerably from one state to another, but all states have set up reporting systems. For additional information on elder abuse from the national perspective, go to the AoA home page.
State of Connecticut – Protective Services for the Elderly
In Connecticut, the primary responsibility for investigating and dealing with the issues of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation resides with the Department of Social Services, Protective Services for the Elderly (PSE) Program. Chapter 319dd, Connecticut General Statutes Sec.17b-450-Sec.17b-461 provides the basis and responsibility for this program. This law was enacted in 1978. It pertains specifically to adults 60 and over, includes neglect, abuse, exploitation and abandonment and mandates certain categories of professionals to report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation.
With regard to reporting, although some professionals are “mandated” to report suspected cases of elder abuse, anyone who suspects that an older adult is being abused, neglected or exploited should make a report to the Regional Office of the CT Department of Social Services (DSS). If it is determined that an elderly person is in need of protective services, DSS provides crisis intervention services.
No one has to handle crisis situations without the benefit of community resources. Protective services are provided to those in need regardless of income or assets. In addition to Protective Services for the Elderly, many municipalities have social services for senior adults. In extreme cases, if an elderly person does not give consent to receive “necessary and reasonable services” and it is felt that he or she lacks the capacity to give consent, DSS Protective Services staff may seek court authorization to provide these services. In certain circumstances, DSS may petition the Probate Court for the appointment of a conservator whose role it is to make decisions on behalf of the client. If possible, a family member will assume that role or if none is available or capable, the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services will be named as Conservator.
To contact Protective Services for the Elderly in Connecticut, call 1-888-385-4225 ( in-state). For out of state callers, please call Infoline at 1-800-203-1234. For after hours emergencies, in-state call Infoline 211. Out of state callers please call 1-800-203-1234.
Additional CT Elder Abuse Prevention Resources
Area Agencies on Aging: (1-800-994-9422) can provide information on resources to those who are concerned about the welfare of a senior adult.
State of Connecticut Financial Crimes Unit-Chief State’s Attorney’s Office: The Financial Crimes Unit is investigates and prosecutes crimes against seniors, particularly crimes of financial abuse and exploitation.
TRIAD Programs: TRIAD is national model with programs in CT uniting law enforcement, aging network providers and private sector businesses who agree to work together to reduce the criminal victimization of older adults and enhance the delivery of law enforcement services to this population. TRIADs strive to strengthen community partnerships that help to improve the quality of life, reduce crime and diminish the fear of crime against Connecticut’s older residents. For a list of local TRIAD chapters in Connecticut or for information on how to start a local TRIAD chapter, read the following link.
Education & emergency sheltering: Jewish Senior Services-Center for Elder Abuse Prevention: (203) 396-1097,
The following links to Elder Abuse stories in the news reflect the issues older persons are currently facing.
- If you are concerned about an older adult in a life or death situation, call 911.
- If you would like to report a case of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation, call CT Protective Services for the Elderly at 1-800-385-4225 for after hours calls dial Infoline at 211.
- If you would like to speak with someone regarding services and programs available to assist senior and their families, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-994-9422.