About Abuse

Elder Abuse

August 15, 2019

I am an older adult experiencing elder abuse. How could abuse affect my health and wellbeing?

Unfortunately, there have not been many studies about the long-term effects of elder abuse on older adults. The studies that have been done, however, show that many of the immediate effects of elder abuse are similar to the signs of elder abuse, including physical damage, like welts, bruises, and other injuries, and emotional damage, such as agitation, shame, and regression. Other effects of elder abuse include:

  • problems with eating and drinking;
  • difficulty sleeping;
  • increased vulnerability to new illnesses, including sexually-transmitted infections;
  • increased damage from existing health conditions;
  • greater risks of fear and anxiety;
  • inability to care for oneself;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and
  • greater risks of early death.1

1 This information was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Can I get a restraining order for elder abuse?

If you are being abused by a caregiver, or if an older adult you know is being abused by a caregiver, you or the older adult you know may qualify for a restraining order. This could be a restraining order for domestic violence or a restraining order specifically for “elder abuse” or for “vulnerable adults,” depending on your state.

The following states and territories have legal orders that specifically protect older or vulnerable adults from abuse by someone who is supposed to be responsible for their care:

Florida (coming soon on WomensLaw.org!)
Puerto Rico
South Dakota
Tennessee (coming soon on WomensLaw.org!)
Virgin Islands (coming soon on WomensLaw.org!)

In states without a specific order protecting older or vulnerable adults, you may still be able to get legal protection from another kind of order. For instance, an older adult who is being abused by a family member may be able to get an order protecting victims of domestic violence. Check your state’s available restraining orders by selecting your state in our Know the Laws – By State section.

Where can I find additional resources and help for elder abuse?

If you want to learn more about how elder abuse can affect older adults and how to get help, here are some additional websites that may be helpful:

You can also find organizations that help victims of elder abuse on our National Organizations – Elder Abuse page.

WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.