The Area Agency on Aging establishes programs for training, information and public education concerning elder abuse, services, and legal protection to victims, and confidentiality for those who report cases of abuse.
Elder abuse is a general term for the mistreatment of older persons. Such mistreatment may include physical, psychological or sexual abuse. Abandonment by a caretaker, financial exploitation, self-neglect or neglect by a caretaker is also considered abuse.
Often an abuser is a person experiencing great stress. He or she may be struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, financial difficulties or marital problems. Abusers may also be caregivers who are normal, loving relatives for whom the care giving burden has become too heavy. They vent their weariness, frustration and anger on the person they perceive to be the cause of this burden. Some of the stress inherent in the care giving role can be alleviated by services to older persons which allow their caregivers a respite from their continuing tasks. Family support groups also offer caregivers a chance to give and receive encouragement, support and understanding from others coping with similar difficulties. (See Support Groups and Adult Day Care.)
An ombudsman is available at Area Agencies to investigate and help resolve complaints made by or for older persons in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and boarding homes.