Instructions: Review each element and check whether or how often it applies, using the scale Always/Yes, Sometimes, Never/No, Need more information. 


We provide officers with equipment and technology that support a timely and thorough investigation; e.g., digital cameras, cell phones, audio and video recording equipment, laptops, and databases.

When a person’s situation does not meet criteria for the arrest of a suspect, we provide the victim with information on legal rights (e.g., right to make a citizen’s or private person’s arrest) and/or referral to an appropriate agency.

Our officers are alert to the co-occurrence of multiple types of abuse; if they suspect one form of abuse they investigate for other forms.

Interviewing Older Adults

Process and components

We interview each reported victim and perpetrator separately.

Our officers are alert to the possibility of elder abuse in many settings, including:

  • Responding to a specific report of elder abuse
  • Conducting a welfare check
  • Investigating another crime
  • Responding to an adult protective services (APS) referral or request for assistance

Our officers are prepared to recognize and respond to a victim’s functional limitations and the impact of those limitations on:

  • Accuracy and credibility of the victim’s account
  • Communication
  • Mobility and physical access to the prosecutor’s office and courtroom
  • Victim stamina over the course of case processing

A referral to social services is not the only response in neglect cases. Our officers investigate and collect evidence as if crimes have been committed.

Neglect: Case Studies

Elder Abuse: Neglect from The IACP on Vimeo.

Our officers have a pocket card, booklet, or checklist that includes types of abuse, key statutes and elements of selected crimes, and an elder abuse response protocol.

When authorized by law, we allow an advocate to be present during interviews if requested by the victim.

Our officers use the Abuse in Later Life Power and Control Wheel to aid their investigations: e.g., in interviews with victims and suspects about potential forms of abuse; or as a cue to ways in which an abuser might attempt to manipulate officers.

We are prepared to investigate and distinguish injuries caused by criminal actions from those caused by non-criminal actions.

Our officers investigate for possible strangulation in elder abuse cases.

Our officers investigate unattended death of an older adult as a homicide, until the medical examiner/coroner establishes otherwise.

We are alert to the following justifications that blame the victim of elder abuse:

  • Accident (“she’s clumsy”)
  • Caregiver stress (“he’s too hard to care for”)
  • Victim’s behavior (“she didn’t stay where I told her to…she overreacted…he gave it to me…she consented…she’s confused…he’s forgetful”)
  • Mutual abuse or self-defense (“she started it”)

We are alert to the following justifications that excuse the perpetrator of elder abuse:

  • Anger problem (“I have a bad temper, short fuse”)
  • Substance abuse (“I was drunk or high”)
  • Physical or mental health (“I have Alzheimer’s”)
  • Learned behavior (“I was abused as a child by my parent”)
  • Culture (“in my culture elders support their adult children”)
  • Normal caregiver activity (“I was just washing him”)

We are alert to forms of elder sexual abuse, including hands-on offenses, hands-off offenses, and harmful genital practices.

We are alert to forms of stalking in later life.

Our officers are prepared to recognize and investigate methods of financial exploitation.

Financial Exploitation by a Family Member

Elder Abuse: Financial Exploitation by a Family Member from The IACP on Vimeo.

Our officers are prepared to investigate reports of elder abuse in a facility setting in which an individual victimizes residents (e.g., a sexual predator living or working in the facility or an abusive family member).

Our officers are prepared to investigate reports of elder abuse in a facility setting in which management and operation of the facility led to abuse of residents.

Our officers are prepared to distinguish health remedies used by different cultures, such as cupping or coining, which can look like signs of physical abuse.

When an arrest is not made our officers submit an incident report documenting what occurred, the status of the parties, and the reason for the non-arrest decision.

Advance to next section: Safety Planning

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