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Elder Abuse: Defining Abuse


According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, elder abuse is defined as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish or deprivation by a person, including a caregiver, of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.” This definition of is largely recognized by health and legal professionals nationwide.

Hitting, slapping, punching or otherwise striking an individual constitutes “physical abuse,” but the term is not limited to these examples. Pinching, pushing, pulling and basically, any intentional physical infliction of pain may be included in the realm of physical abuse.

“Neglect” is a much more nebulous term and difficult to define. But it involves, in most cases, the failure on the part of a caregiver to meet responsibility related to the care of an individual.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 500,000 adults age 60 or older suffer abuse or neglect each year and that common elder abuse typically includes: physical, sexual and emotional abuse; neglect, financial abuse and abandonment. And experts agree that cases of elder abuse often go under-reported, so this number is likely a conservative estimate.

Individuals that suspect a loved one is suffering elder abuse don't always know what steps to take to address the abuse and prevent future harm. Anyone that suspects a loved one is the victim of elder abuse should first contact local law enforcement or Adult Protective Services Department to file a report. Proving abuse is not necessary to file such a report. That will get the ball rolling to start an investigation.

The National Center of Elder Abuse offers an online resource for “Where to Report Abuse” on a state-by-state basis.

Individuals may also contact their state's long-term care ombudsman to access further resources for those living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Simply visit to find your local ombudsman. Administration on Aging at 800.677.1116 or go to

After having contacted local law enforcement and initiating an investigation, it may be fortuitous to contact an personal injury attorney with a background in elder abuse litigation.

The attorneys at Panio Law Offices offer a wide variety of personal injury expertise. We understand Illinois personal injury law and have won millions of dollars in damages for our clients.

If you have questions about a personal injury case involving elder abuse, call (708) 928-8680. We can help.

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