College of American Pathologists
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  Elder Maltreatment


Posted November 10, 2008


The College of American Pathologists recognizes the growing number of cases of elder maltreatment, abuse of individuals 65 years of age and older, is seen in all segments of society. Recognition and treatment of all forms of elder maltreatment by physicians are imperative. Only by accurate diagnosis and documentation will we be able to bring proper attention to this growing epidemic. Reporting by physicians is mandatory.

Information Highlights

  • By 2020, 22 percent of the US population will be over 65 years of age.
  • Elder maltreatment can be classified into 6 categories: [1] physical abuse, [2] sexual abuse, [3] neglect, [4] psychological abuse, [5] financial and material exploitation, and [6] violation of rights.
  • Elder maltreatment is seen in all races and ethnic groups, religions, educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups.
  • Although most elders will die of their natural disease, these individuals are also targets of violence and victims of homicide.
  • In descending order, the leading natural causes of death in persons 65 years old or greater are heart disease, malignancy, cerebrovascular disease, and pneumonia.
  • As a society with an increasing percentage of elders, we can only expect this vulnerable group to be potential victims of maltreatment and violence.
  • The most common form of elder maltreatment is neglect, the failure of a caregiver to provide basic care to a patient and to provide goods and services necessary to prevent physical harm or emotional discomfort.
  • Currently, no federal statutes exist to prevent elder maltreatment as there are for child abuse and domestic violence in general.
  • It is the responsibility of all healthcare professionals to recognize, treat, and report cases of elder maltreatment.