Elder Abuse & Mistreatment Quiz

While it is hard for people to believe that family, friends and others would actually harm or otherwise take advantage of an older person, it is happening in neighborhoods across America. We invite you to test your knowledge on elder abuse and mistreatment. Answer ‘True’ or ‘False’ to each of the following statements and then check your responses. Professionals in health care, social services and other industries (e.g., banking, insurance, retail, utilities) play a significant role in helping people stay Safe after 60. Through increased awareness, education and the utilization of best-practice resources, we can encourage, equip, and empower people to age safely. 


1. Elder abuse is underreported because older people, family members and professionals lack awareness and don’t understand the signs and symptoms of abuse.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      Elder abuse and mistreatment is underreported by family, friends and professionals for a variety of reasons that include (but are not limited to) a lack of: awareness that behavior is abusive, familiarity about signs or symptoms of abuse, knowledge about how or where to report, confidence to make a report when abuse is suspected. Reasons why victims often stay silent include: dependency on abuser(s), fear of consequences, family secrecy, self blame and shame. Abuse and mistreatment of older adults is a complex situation that needs increased awareness, knowledge, understanding and multifaceted prevention interventions.

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2. Factors that contribute to the abuse and mistreatment of older people include health changes in either the victim or abuser.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      Older people experiencing health changes due to chronic illness or injury are more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and mistreatment as a result of cognitive and functional limitations imposed by their medical conditions. People who act abusively, exploit or mistreat older people often have a substance abuse problem and may face health challenges of their own (e.g., depression, persistent pain).

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3. A “red flag” that may indicate financial abuse is when a family member manages an older adult’s money.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      Many older people request and benefit from the help from family members in managing finances and paying bills. “Red flags” for financial abuse and exploitation include: unusual spending patterns, money disappearing from accounts with no explanation, sudden inability to meet monthly obligations, increased activity on credit cards, unexpected change in lifestyle of family members, names unexpected added to accounts, inappropriate transfer of ownership of personal property. For more information you might find the following websites to be helpful: Elder Financial Abuse and the National Center on Elder Abuse Factsheets and Publications.

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4. Elder abuse is a problem that most often occurs in ‘bad’ neighborhoods and rarely is an issue in more affluent neighborhoods.

5. The most common type of elder abuse is physical abuse referring to using force which results in bodily injury.

6. Caregivers may deprive elders of needed care to make them more compliant.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      According to a 2008 article in Aging Today (Sept-Oct. edition) Trust Betrayed: One Elder's Fight Against Financial Abuse, "Caregivers may deprive elders of needed care to make them more compliant or susceptible to undue influence, or they may attend to hasten the elder’s death if they stand to benefit financially." Another concern is adult children depriving their aging parents in order to meet their personal obligations and/or enhance their inheritance. Multiple articles in recent year have referenced the term "waiter" referring to an adult child who is up to his or her elbows in debt and waiting for, and counting on, an inheritance to bail him or her out. Unfortunately, such people are often the ones who take measures to deny their parents of luxuries such as a new car, dinners out, travel and more; for every dollar a parent spends on him/herself, one less dollar remains to be inherited.

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7. Living arrangements are a significant risk factor for abuse because older adults living alone or otherwise isolated have been found to be at risk for abuse and exploitation.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      In 2006, approximately 30% of community dwelling older people lived alone according to the Administration on Aging (AOA). Of the 10.7 million older adults living alone, it is estimated that 7.8 million were women and 2.9 million were men, representing 38.4% of all older women and 19.4% of all older men. The proportion of older people living alone increases with advanced age. Among community dwelling women aged 75+, approximately half lived alone while just under one-third lived with a spouse. Living arrangements are a significant risk factor for abuse because older people living alone or otherwise isolated have been found to be at increased risk for abuse and exploitation.

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8. Older women are most likely to be victims of abuse and abusers are frequently adult men.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      According to a recent MetLife report, “Women were nearly twice as likely to be victims of elder financial abuse as men.” Also, “Nearly 60% of perpetrators were males. Most male perpetrators were between the ages of 30 and 59, while most of the female perpetrators were between the ages of 30 and 49. Perpetrators who were strangers often targeted victims with visible vulnerabilities (e.g., limited mobility, displays of confusion, or living alone).”

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9. Each year, older people are exploited to the tune of $2.9 billion dollars.

  • TRUE or FALSE
    • TRUE
      The annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion dollars, a 12% increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008.

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10. Older people who find themselves being abused and exploited are eager to get help so the mistreatment stops.

  • TRUE or FALSE