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A Guide for Elder Abuse Response

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In 2012, 8,616 individual cases of elder abuse and self-neglect were reported to the Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services program.1 However, research shows that for every abusive incident reported, 13 incidents go unreported.2 By these estimates, as many as 120,624 older adults in Los Angeles – or 1 in 10 adults aged 65+ – may be victims of abuse or self-neglect.3

Elder abuse is more than just physical assault and battery. It can include isolating an elder from family and friends, withholding or mismanaging medications, refusing to seek appropriate medical care, leaving an elder in soiled clothing or sheets, , abandoning a dependent elder, stealing checks or money, enticing vulnerable elders to give away large amounts of money or property, or knowingly encourage an elder with cognitive impairments sign legal documents. Self-neglect occurs when an older adult is unable to care for their physical, emotional or psychological needs. This can include using poor judgment to make decisions that may lead to harm, refusing to comply with medical treatment, living in deplorable or hoarded conditions, and being unable to provide for one’s food, clothing and shelter.”

Social workers, police officers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, and gerontologists work to investigate and intervene in cases of abuse, but everyone has a role to play. Most abuse victims live in the community, and many continue to drive, shop for their own groceries, and do their own banking. Family members, friends, neighbors, professionals, and everyday service providers are uniquely positioned to monitor older adults and report suspicions of elder abuse to professionals to resolve cases of mistreatment.

The Guide for Elder Abuse Response (GEAR) application was developed for use by community members and elder abuse professionals in Los Angeles. The app provides practical information on abuse, tools, resources, and ways to report abuse.

This app is provided as a resource by the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, a leader in aging research and gerontological education, and the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Forensic Center, a multidisciplinary team of elder abuse professionals dedicated to the investigation, intervention, and resolution of abusive situations.

1 California Department of Social Services – SOC 242 Monthly Statistical Reports January – December 2012. Retrieved online from on 10/28/2013.2 Sources: Bonnie, R. J. & Wallace, R. W. (2003). Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press & the National Center on Elder Abuse, “Statistics & Data” (

3 U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved online from

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