Welcome to the Elder Justice Learning and Research Hub. We address the abuse of adults 50 years of age and older across Virginia, and nationally. We bring professionals together from diverse fields, such as law enforcement, victim advocacy, social services, the faith community, criminal justice, housing, healthcare, aging services, and more. Through these collaborations we aim to piece together and address the whole story – the whole person – the whole system. Ultimately to improve the lives of those in our communities who have experienced abuse in later life.
We have compiled information for you to learn how to safeguard against, and respond to elder abuse. We have also compiled a range of resources to guide and support professionals and allies. You can also find out how to get involved.
- Elder abuse and mistreatment: Issue Brief
- Signs of Elder Abuse - NCEA Infographic
- Ageism & Elder Mistreatment
- Ageist attitudes dehumanize older adults and this makes it easier for abusers to rationalize their abuse or exploitation. Also experiencing abuse can reinforce an older adult’s negative views about their own aging (internalized ageism), and can contribute to the under-reporting of elder abuse.
In Virginia, each local department of social services houses its own Adult Protective Services (APS) unit. You can find your local department here or call the toll-free 24-hour hotline at 1-888-832-3858.
Other agencies providing essential services to those experiencing abuse are Area Agencies on Aging, which cover every county in Virginia, and domestic and sexual violence programs. You can find what’s available in your area:
- Safety Connector (coming soon on Virginia Easy Access)
- Elder Care Locator
- Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance hotline
Adult Protective Services (APS) receives and investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults 60 years of age or older and incapacitated adults age 18 or older.
If protective services are needed and accepted by the individual, local APS workers may arrange for a wide variety of health, housing, social and legal services to stop the mistreatment or prevent further mistreatment. Services offered may include home-based care, transportation, adult day services, adult foster care, nutrition services and legal intervention in order to protect the adult.
Services may also be arranged for individuals in emergency situations who lack the capacity to consent to services.
- If you suspect or witness elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, report it to your local Department of Social Services, or call the toll-free 24-hour hotline at 1-888-832-3858.
- What is a mandated reporter?
- Mandated reporters are certain persons who are identified in the Code of Virginia as having a legal responsibility to report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation. Mandated reporting aims to identify suspected abused and neglected children, older adults, and people with disabilities as soon as possible so that they can be protected from further harm. Adult Protective Services (APS) and Child Protective Services (CPS) cannot act until a report is made. So mandated reporters play a critical role in preventing any future harm to people being abused or exploited.
- Whether required by law or not, if you suspect that a child or an adult (who is over age 60 or incapacitated adults 18 years and older) is being abused, neglected, or exploited, you should immediately report your concerns to the local department of social services in your community. You can learn more, and take the Mandated Reporter Training here.
- Safeguarding is a term used in some countries, like Ireland and the United Kingdom, to talk about elders’ rights to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. Abuse is never acceptable nor justifiable, no matter the circumstances that surround it. While research about the prevention of elder mistreatment is lacking, we do know that our safest communities are our most well resourced communities. Community members need access to essential resources and services. They also need an understanding of their rights and to know how to access help to ensure they’re protected.
- Following are some links to important safeguarding resources:
The Social Health Connector on Virginia Easy Access.
Health Brain Virginia to safeguard against cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia.
Connect Virginia - Secure online Health Information Exchange.
- VCoA works to address elder mistreatment by bringing together professionals from such diverse fields as law enforcement, victim advocacy, social services, the faith community, criminal justice, housing, healthcare, aging services, and more. By working collaboratively, we can put the pieces together to improve the lives of older adults experiencing abuse.
- For Law Enforcement: This Virginia focused toolkit, developed with guidance from the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life, is designed to allow executive level law enforcement to examine current practices and introduce information that helps expand knowledge of and response to elder abuse.
- For Healthcare Professionals: VCU Health Elder Mistreatment Training Hub offers resources for health care practitioners. Curated with invaluable guidance from providers within the field of health care, this hub will provide information about elder mistreatment in an easily shareable platform.
- NCALL works to do the following:
- Promote victim-defined advocacy and services for older survivors by providing information and resources on equitable and accessible programs, safety planning, outreach, and mandatory reporting
- Foster coordinated community response (CCR) teams by offering training and technical assistance on building or enhancing CCR teams to address the needs of older adults. Advocate for elder justice by providing information on legal remedies and resources to enhance victim safety and to hold offenders accountable.
- Raise awareness of abuse in later life and elder abuse by creating effective outreach materials and engaging in various diverse methods to heighten the visibility of older survivors and their needs.
- Engage in policy development by working on a range of issues that affect survivors of abuse in later life.
- Partner with organizations that address domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse in later life, and elder abuse to promote respect and dignity across the lifespan and to confront ageist social norms.
NCEA is a national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder maltreatment. The NCEA was first established by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) in 1988 as a demonstration project on abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Given permanent status in the 1992 amendments to Title II of the Older Americans Act, the NCEA provides professionals, policymakers, and the public information and resources on elder abuse prevention and response to help ensure that older adults age with dignity and respect, free from mistreatment.
The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department of Justice’’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s older adults.
- EAGLE is an online tool designed to support officers in quickly identifying, intervening, and resolving elder abuse situations. Developed with input and user testing by law enforcement for law enforcement, EAGLE provides:
- Tools to assist in documenting a case for prosecution ZIP-code-based community resources locator
- State-by-state penal codes relating to elder abuse
- Curated list of webinars designed for law enforcement and much more.
- Elder Mistreatment in Virginia
- Elder mistreatment is a serious, underreported, and worsening social problem. There were 12,824 substantiated reports of physical, psychological or sexual abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect in Virginia in 2022 (Virginia APS). The effects are devastating, negatively impacting the physical, emotional, financial, and social health and well-being of older adults, families, caregivers, and communities.
- Ageism is widely acknowledged for its inextricable link to elder abuse and mistreatment.
- We are bombarded with the message that aging is to be avoided and this leaves many of us feeling disconnected, or less valued, and at greater risk of mistreatment as we age. Stereotypes and prejudice all too frequently justify abusive behavior towards older adults, or overlook the consequences.
- Virginia HEAR - Helping Elders Access Resources
- VCU’s Virginia Center on Aging, is leading 'Virginia Helping Elders Access Resources' (HEAR) in partnership with the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, No Wrong Door, and Virginia Tech to achieve these actions across the State.
- In Spring 2024 the HEAR partners will launch a multimedia training program statewide to educate on elder abuse and ageism. Watch this intro video.
- In February 2024 the partnership will launch a web-based Safety Connector, a central hub of information, programs, and services for older adults, their families and caregivers, and frontline professionals.
- Join the Virginia HEAR Interest List to stay tuned.
- The Virginia HEAR project is funded by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- Combating Ageism is Combating Abuse - Easy-read Article