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Elder abuse on the rise as population ages

Elder abuse can impact 1 in 10 older Americans
Elder abuse can impact 1 in 10 older Americans 03:12

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an estimated 5 million older Americans will experience some form of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.


Denver Human Services is raising awareness about elder abuse around World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Adult Protective Services division of DHS provides services and resources to support older adults.

Last year, Adult Protective Services received 2,624 reports of suspected mistreatment of at-risk adults. Experts believe that incidents of elder abuse are vastly under-reported.

"Keep in mind for every one report that we get, there are give that go unreported," said Logan Crookston, a case worker with Adult Protective Services. "The reason this is so important is because the reason an elder might not self-report is because of family dynamics or dependence on that alleged perpetrator."

"In addition to those investigations, we also assess for risk or any unmet need the older adult or at-risk adult may need getting," said Jessica Naberhaus, a caseworker for Adult Protective Services. 

LINK: For more information about elder abuse prevention

In 2012, Denver Human Services in partnership with the District Attorney's Office created the Denver Forensic Collaborative for At-Risk Adults. The collaborative is designed to investigate reports of elder abuse from different aspects.

"We come together once a month to discuss really complex and complicated cases and allegations of mistreatment," Naberhaus explained. "In those conversations, we're able to hep come up with strategic plans to help those older adults reach safety and mitgate that risk that they're expereincing,"

In Colorado, there is mandatory reporting of suspected mistreatment of adults over the age of 70 or adults with intellectual and development disabilities. 

Everyone should know the signs of elder abuse which include:

  • depression, confusion, withdrawn--isolated
  • unexplained bruises
  • underfed, dehydrated, dirty, under- or over-medicated
  • change in banking/spending habits

LINK: For more information on reporting abuse

Older adults across the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to financial abuse and exploitation. The problem is likely to get worse. People aged 85 and older are predicted to almost triple and reach 19 million by 2060.

To report suspected mistreatment of at-risk adults in Denver, call 720-944-2994.

LINK: For more information about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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