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About Abuse

Elder Abuse

Updated: August 15, 2019

Who is considered an “older adult?”

There are many definitions of an “older adult”1 in the United States. The definition may vary by state and depending on the purpose for which it is used.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines an “older adult” as someone at least 60 years of age,2 while the National Institute on Aging uses 65 years of age.1 However, many states define “older adult” or “elderly” differently when determining what resources are available in elder abuse cases.3 For example, a state may provide supportive services to people over 60 while only prosecuting “elder abuse” if the older adult is over 65. For this reason, the definition needs to be researched on a case-by-case basis when determining what protections your specific state may offer. If you or a loved one are survivors of elder abuse and you would like legal information for your specific situation, please send us a message on our Email Hotline.

Note: As recommended by the National Institute of Aging, WomensLaw uses the term “older adult” instead of “elderly” because it affirms agency and personhood.

1  National Institutes of Health, Older adults vs. the elderly
2Elder Abuse: Definitions,” Centers for Disease Control
3 “State Specific Laws,” Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement