An elderly man smiling at the camera. You noticed your favorite elder has become withdrawn and no longer enjoys their hobbies. They confess their aches and a new, intense pain in their abdomen, but their caretaker dismisses their complaints as imaginary.

You recognize the behavioral changes and the caretaker's neglect as possible elder abuse.

What should you do?

Immediate Danger

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If you fear for the elder's physical welfare, and you believe they may be in immediate danger, call 911 or the police department.

The emergency number 911 will work throughout the US as well as Canada.

How do you know if the elder is in immediate danger?

  • Is the elder suffering from an injury or a life-threatening illness?

  • Could serious physical harm occur within a short period of time?

  • Is the elder threatening self-harm?

If any of the above are true, call for help immediately!

Confide In Someone You Trust

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Share your concerns with an elder's relative who can listen with compassion and give sound advice.

Choose your confidant with care. You might have a strained relationship with the elder's caretaker, and if the elder's abusive caretaker is also a relative, your suspicions may get back to them.

If there isn't a relative you can confide in, choose someone who is:

  • A good listener

  • Supportive and can see from your point of view

  • Can offer empathy and emotional validation

  • Willing to keep the focus on you and your situation

  • Loyal

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Sharing your concerns can reduce your anxiety and fear. Your ally can work with you on a plan to help your elderly relative.

Report The Abuse

Flaticon Icon This may be particularly difficult if the elderly's caretaker is a relative. 60% of elder abuse is caused by a family member.

You may want to avoid confrontation, but it's important to report the abuse because it won't stop without intervention.

You can report elder abuse anonymously.

You'll be asked important details about the elder and their care, but you don't have to give your name.

Call local adult protective services or the Eldercare Locator helpline: 1-800-677-1116 in the US. In British Columbia, call the Seniors Abuse & Information Line (SAIL) at 1-866-437-1940.

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You can also report elderly abuse online.

Check out more resources for support in Canada and the US.

Nicole's Story

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While visiting her grandfather, Nicole became concerned with behavioral and physical changes that didn't begin until her aunt moved in to help with her grandfather's care.

Nicole thinks her aunt may be responsible for his failing health, but she doesn't want to confront her aunt.

What should Nicole do?

A. Nicole may be exaggerating her grandfather's behavioral and physical changes because she's anxious about his care. She should wait and see if his health worsens.

B. Nicole can share her concerns with her best friend, who has always been a good listener. She can trust her friend to listen to her point of view and keep the information confidential.

C. Nicole should immediately dial 911 and share her suspicions with the operator/dispatcher. She can be directed to the correct resources to help her grandfather.

D. Nicole can investigate the situation on her own. If she reports the abuse, it can cause a family rift. It's better if she helps take care of her grandfather. She can visit more often.


What should Nicole do?

Take Action


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