News Center
Raising Awareness about the Hidden Crisis of Elder Abuse

Posted on: May 25, 2016

It’s almost unthinkable: the abuse of an older adult.

This largely hidden crisis finds older adults falling victim to physical violence, emotional abuse, neglect and financial exploitation – often by the people they trust the most.

What’s to be done? As a start, you can take part in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. Wear something purple to demonstrate your commitment to ending elder abuse and neglect.

Deborah Cotton, Regional Initiatives and Outreach Services Coordinator in ARC’s Aging & Health Resources Division, provides an overview of this important issue and its impact on the Atlanta region.

Q: Who is at Risk for Elder Abuse?

A: Elder abuse can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes or other institutions. It affects seniors across all socio-economic groups.

Based on available information, women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized. Risk factors include dementia, as well as mental health and substance abuse problems of both abusers and victims.

Q: What Should I Do if I Suspect Elder Abuse?

A: Report your concerns. Remember, most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Warning signs can include unexplained bruises, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration, unexplained changes of alertness and sudden changes in finances and accounts.

Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. If you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation or immediate danger, call 911 or contact local law enforcement officials. To report abuse in the community, contact Adult Protective Services.  For suspected abuse in a long-term care facility, contact the Office of Regulatory Services.

Q: How will the Atlanta Regional Commission recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

A: ARC is a strong supporter of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. We established an Elder Rights Team that has been conducting education and community outreach to raise awareness of this issue and help prevent some abuse cases.

This year, ARC has adopted a Proclamation in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and is encouraging local governments to do the same.  Additionally, ARC is hosting a training session for staff and community partners on June 15 to share experiences and to promote awareness and prevention.

For information about Elder Abuse, contact the Aging and Disability Resource Connection at 404-463-3333.

For information about ARC’s Elder Rights Team, please contact Deborah Cotton at

For information about what you can do to prevent elder abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Learn more when Deborah appears on 11Alive’s Atlanta & Company on June 14 at 11 a.m.