Red Flags of Elder Abuse

Our communities can and should support people’s safety and wellbeing. One of the most important ways we can all contribute is by being aware of the warning signs of maltreatment and taking action when we suspect abuse.

Does someone you know display any signs of abuse? If so, TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY. Everyone, at every age, deserves to live safely. Report suspected abuse as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is in danger, call 911. For other cases, contact NY Connects Niagara County: 716-438-3030 to report suspected abuse or to find out about support programs. If necessary, go to the nearest emergency room.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is the mistreatment or harming of an older person. It can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, along with neglect and financial exploitation. Many social factors—for example, a lack of support services and community resources—can make conditions ripe for elder abuse.

Ageism (biases against or stereotypes about older people that keep them from being fully a part of their community) also plays a role in enabling elder abuse. By changing these contributing factors, we can prevent elder abuse and make sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive as we age.


Physical Abuse

Use of force to threaten or physically injure an older person.


Emotional Abuse

Verbal attacks, threats, rejection, isolation, or belittling acts that cause or could cause mental anguish, pain, or distress to an older person.


Sexual Abuse

Sexual contact that is forced, tricked, threatened, or otherwise coerced upon an older person, including anyone who is unable to grant consent.



Theft, fraud, misuse or neglect of authority, and use of undue influence as a lever to gain control over an older person’s money or property.



Failure or refusal to provide for an older person’s safety, physical, or emotional needs.

Spot the Signs

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse?

It’s important to look for and be aware of how common abuse on the elderly can be. Spotting these symptoms early could prevent emotional, behavioral, physical, and financial harm to the elderly community. Being informed can stop exploitation and possibly save a life. The emotional, behavioral, physical, and financial symptoms of elder abuse can include any one or a combination of the following:

Physical Signs

    • Broken bones, bruises, and welts
    • Cuts, sores or burns, bed sores
    • Lack of medical aids
    • Dirtiness, poor nutrition or dehydration
    • Poor living conditions

Emotional & Behavioral Signs

    • Unusual changes in behavior or sleep
    • Fear or anxiety
    • Isolated or not responsive or withdrawn
    • Depression


Financial Signs

    • Unusual changes in bank account or money management
    • Unpaid bills
    • Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents
    • Fraudulent signatures on financial documents

Act Fast

How can we Prevent and Address Elder Abuse?

We can lower the risk of elder abuse by having support and foundations in place that make abuse less likely, as well as each of us taking responsibility to get involved if we see or suspect abusive behavior of a neighbor, friend, or loved one.

In Western New York, there are extensive community supports and services organizations for caregivers and older adults which can alleviate risk factors tied to elder abuse.

The Office of Aging in Niagara County will receive and follow-up on any suspected abuse incidents or will connect caregivers and senior citizens with a range of support organizations. They can be reached at 716-438-3030 or email

Get Help

Catholic Health Emergency Rooms

Catholic Health emergency rooms are open 24/7 and staffed by board-certified emergency medicine physicians who are experienced in treating every kind of emergency, including elder mistreatment.

Helpful Documents and Links

Red Flags of Elder Abuse

Fact sheet about warning signs and how to protect elders against abuse. Click Here to Download

Elder Abuse Prevention

Help is available and you can make a real difference. Click Here to Download