NCPEA - National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
Elder Care

What Services Are Available to Stop Abuse?

A variety of health and social services are available to address the underlying causes of abuse, stop it, and reduce the likelihood that it will occur again. Still other services treat the emotional, physical, and financial effects. Some of these services are federally funded and available in every community, while others are specific to certain communities. Below is a list of services that are frequently needed by victims. Instructions for finding out what services are available in your community, and how to access them, are provided on the How do I find services in my community? page.

Mental health

Mental health assessments are often needed to determine if an older person is capable of meeting his or her own basic needs, making decisions about services, offering testimony, and protecting him or herself against abuse. Assessments of alleged abusers' mental status are sometimes needed to determine if they pose a danger to others and are in need of treatment.

Counseling

Counseling for victims or vulnerable adults can help them assess their options, plan for their safety, resolve conflicts, and overcome trauma. Group or individual counseling may be available from private therapists, health maintenance organizations, or mental health clinics. In abuse cases, counseling typically focuses on the following issues:

Legal assistance

Legal assistance is needed in many abuse cases. Legal services are provided by private attorneys, programs operated by local or state bar associations, or subsidized legal aid programs. The Older American's Act established a network of free legal services for persons over the age of 60. These programs are becoming increasingly adept at handling elder abuse cases. The following interventions may be needed in abuse cases:

Support Services

When abuse or neglect is related to the stresses associated with care giving, risk can be reduced by providing services that reduce the older person's dependency and isolation and provide relief to caregivers. Support services include:

Daily money management. Financial abuse frequently may occur when an older person has lost the ability to manage his or her finances. Arranging for trustworthy people to help can reduce this risk. The help may be informal, where the money manager simply helps the elder with simple tasks like paying bills, or it may involve formal transfers of authority, including representative payeeship, power of attorney, or guardianship.

Case management

Case management is an approach to providing services to individuals who have multiple and changing care needs. Case managers, who may work for public or private agencies or be in private practice, provide the following services:

Victim witness assistance

Victim witness assistance programs, which are usually located within prosecutors' offices, help victims whose cases are in the criminal justice system. They provide:

Domestic violence

Domestic violence programs provide an array of services for battered women. Some offer special services for older women or can accommodate older women's special needs. Domestic violence services include:

Services for Abusers

Some situations can be remedied by providing services to abusers. Abusers who are dependent on their victims for money or a place to live may benefit from job training or placement, financial assistance, counseling in independent living, or mental health or substance abuse treatment. While it is difficult to convince some abusers to accept treatment voluntarily - particularly mental health, domestic violence, or substance abuse treatment - these services are often mandated by courts or offered as conditions of probation or as alternatives to prosecution.

Stopping neglect and self-neglect

Determining what interventions are appropriate in neglect cases depends on many factors, including the caregivers' willingness to improve care, the families' resources, and the willingness of the elder to accept help. Caregivers who are willing and able to improve the care they provide can be assisted by support services. A caregiver whose motive for providing care is self-interest may need to be replaced by a responsible person. Mental health services may also be needed, particularly in self-neglect cases.