Elder/Care Dependent Abuse

Elder abuse is the abuse or financial exploitation of adults 60 years of age and older.

Care-Dependent Person Abuse is the abuse or neglect of an adult (18-59 years of age) who, due to physical or cognitive disability or impairment, requires assistance to meet his/her needs for food, shelter, clothing, personal care or health care. 

Abuse and neglect can take many forms from physical to emotional.  Physical abuse ranges from assaults resulting in bruising to serious fractures and sexual abuse.  Neglect can include a caregiver failing to provide the victim with basic necessities such as medication, proper clothing, or meals.   The abuse can frequently be undetected or unnoticed.  Victims of abuse may protect the abuser since they depend upon that person for assistance with daily needs.  The victim may be isolated and unable to call for help.

Abuse may involve exploitation of the elderly or care-dependent person’s finances.  Often the caregiver has access to the victim’s finances and steals from them.  Statistically, senior citizens are favored targets for many kinds of consumer fraud and financial exploitation, including identity theft, and telemarketing and sweepstakes fraud. 

Detecting neglect and abuse

Signs of abuse may include unexplained bruises or welts, bed sores, injuries that are incompatible with the explanations, malnourishment or dehydration, untreated medical condition, soiled or dirty clothing or bedding.  Signs of abuse may not be obvious.  The victim may show signs of confusion, fear, depression, helplessness, hesitancy to talk freely or not permitted to talk freely. Physical caretakers, doctors, nurses and other health aides are in a unique position to recognize these signs and take appropriate measures to identify and report abuse.  Neighbors, friends, and family may recognize changes in behavior or physical appearance.  Fear of a caregiver should give you pause. 

Signs that an elderly or care-dependent person has been financially exploited may include large or unusual bank transactions or charges in their spending patterns, unpaid bills when income is adequate, missing checks, suspicious power of attorney, ATM transactions by homebound elderly or care-dependent person, or overcharging for services.

At the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office, our Elder and Care-Dependent Abuse Unit investigates and prosecutes these cases with the concern and compassion that is needed to protect this vulnerable population and bring justice. 


Who should I contact if I suspect an elderly or care-dependent person is being abused or exploited?

Lancaster County Office of Aging:  299-7979

Lancaster County District Attorney office:  299-8100

Local Law Enforcement Agency