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Home / Elder Mistreatment and Diverse Communities

Elder Mistreatment and Diverse Communities

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Elder Abuse

Elder abuse occurs across domains of ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, race, and sexual orientation, among other identities. Though there are few studies assessing elder abuse in diverse communities, research suggests that people’s perceptions of mistreatment are impacted by their experiences and environments. Understandings of abuse may also vary based on cultural and social norms among and within communities. For diverse elders, in particular, historical oppression and marginalization endured over a lifetime can impact individual responses to abuse.


These differences influence how mistreatment is defined, described, and addressed. Recognizing how diverse communities perceive abuse and neglect is essential to developing culturally appropriate resources and interventions.


This content aligns with President Biden’s “Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” Specifically, the President’s call to recognize and redress systemic disparities among historically underserved and marginalized communities by advancing equitable opportunities, resources, and benefits for all.

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Fact Sheets

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In-Language Fact Sheets

General Facts About Elder Abuse

Elder Mistreatment Interventions and Resources in AANHPI Communities

English (PDF | 271 KB) | Chinese (PDF | 389 KB) | Korean (PDF | 283 KB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 264 KB)

Signs of Elder Abuse

English (PDF | 209 KB) | Spanish (PDF | 211 KB) | Chinese (PDF | 331 KB) | Korean (PDF | 286 KB)

5 Things Anyone Can Do to Prevent Elder Abuse

English (PDF | 2 MB) | Spanish (PDF | 2 MB) | Chinese (PDF | 2 MB) | Korean (PDF | 2 MB) | Tagalog (PDF | 2 MB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 2 MB) | Armenian (PDF | 2 MB) | Farsi (PDF | 351 KB)

12 Things Everyone Can Do to Prevent Elder Abuse

English (PDF | 133 KB)| Spanish (PDF | 134 KB) | Chinese (PDF | 230 KB) | Korean (PDF | 150 KB) | Tagalog (PDF | 127 KB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 216 KB) | Armenian (PDF | 201 KB) | Farsi (PDF | 1 MB)

Types of Elder Abuse

Emotional Abuse

English (PDF | 1 MB) | Chinese (PDF | 2 MB) | Korean (PDF | 1 MB) | Japanese (PDF | 2 MB) | Samoan (PDF | 1 MB) | Tagalog (PDF | 1 MB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 1 MB)  

Identifying Financial Exploitation

English (PDF | 2 MB) | Chinese (PDF | 2 MB) | Korean (PDF | 2 MB) | Samoan (PDF | 2 MB) | Tagalog (PDF | 2 MB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 2 MB)

Planning to Protect Yourself from Financial Exploitation!

English (PDF | 2 MB) | Chinese (PDF | 2 MB) | Korean (PDF | 2 MB) | Samoan (PDF | 2 MB) | Tagalog (PDF | 2 MB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 2 MB)


English (PDF | 1 MB) | Chinese (PDF | 1 MB) | Korean (PDF | 1 MB) | Japanese (PDF | 2 MB) | Samoan (PDF | 1 MB) | Tagalog (PDF | 1 MB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 1 MB)


Fotonovela Patience and Love: Being a Caregiver is Born from the Heart English (PDF | 2 MB) | Paciencia y Amor: Ser Cuidador Nace del Corazón Spanish (PDF | 2 MB)

Six Ways to Care for Yourself When Caring for Someone with Dementia
English (PDF | 1 MB) | Chinese (PDF | 2 MB) | Korean (PDF | 1 MB) | Japanese (PDF | 1 MB) | Samoan (PDF | 1 MB) | Tagalog (PDF | 1 MB) | Vietnamese (PDF | 1 MB)

An older Asian woman with her arms around her husband
Caregiving in Diverse Communities

The dynamics of caregiving can provide context for complicated familial relationships that may be associated with an increased likelihood of mistreatment. In diverse communities, the lack of culturally appropriate services and supports can inhibit effective intervention.


Diverse Elders Coalition

Caring for those who Care Toolkit Resources for Providers: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Family Caregivers

Group of older diverse friends

Research suggests that lived experiences may impact an older person’s willingness to either report abuse or seek intervention through agencies like law enforcement or Adult Protective Services. For example, older adults who have experienced racism and oppression throughout their lives may be distrustful of agencies that they believe may place their families at risk of being discriminated against on the basis of race.


Other barriers to helping resources include limited access to services and supports, especially those that are culturally and
linguistically appropriate to the needs of specific communities. In addition, some diverse elders are reluctant to report family
members or friends on whom they depend for housing, food, and other essential needs. Many may be embarrassed, unwilling to tell anyone that they have been abused. Others may not want to report a loved one and expose them to the criminal justice system.

Principles of Restorative Elder Justice

One intervention that has been gaining interest is Restorative Justice. Consider: What is our goal when trying to help an older adult in cases of elder mistreatment? Protection? Justice? Healing?


While each is important, few laws and social support services focus on as a primary goal.


The model of restorative justice should be considered when working with diverse communities because it focuses on family
systems and community as an alternative to traditional criminal and court systems. The model supports healing at the individual and community levels and takes into account social determinants of elder mistreatment.


Addressing elder mistreatment with this lens can provide a more equitable approach to addressing elder abuse and neglect.

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Research Studies



  • Li, M., Chen, R., & Dong, X. (2020). Elder Mistreatment Across Diverse Cultures. Generations, 44(1), 20-25.
  • Jervis, L. L., Hamby, S., Beach, S. R., Williams, M. L., Maholmes, V., & Castille, D. M. (2016). Elder mistreatment in underserved populations: Opportunities and challenges to developing a contemporary program of research. Journal of elder abuse & neglect, 28(4-5), 301-319.
  • Joseph, J., & Gonzalez, A. (2018). Elder Abuse in Communities of Color in the United States: A Literature Review. In Perspectives on Elderly Crime and  Victimization, 125-139.
  • Enguidanos, S., DeLiema, M., Aguilar, I., Lambrinos, J., & Wilber, K. (2014). Multicultural voices: Attitudes of older adults in the United States about elder mistreatment. Ageing and society, 34(5), 877.
  • Burrell, J. E. (2019). Relationship Between Race, Gender, and Elder Abuse Awareness



  • Mouton, C. P., & Southerland, J. H. (2017). Elder Abuse in the African diaspora: A review. Journal of the National Medical Association, 109(4), 262-271.
  • Horsford, S. R., Parra-Cardona, J. R., Post, L. A., & Schiamberg, L. (2010). Elder abuse and neglect in African American families: informing practice based on ecological and cultural frameworks. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 23(1), 75-88.




  • Chao, Y. Y., Li, M., Lu, S. E., & Dong, X. (2020). Elder mistreatment and psychological distress among US Chinese older adults. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 1-19.
  • Chang, M. (2016). Experience of elder abuse among older Korean immigrants. Journal of elder abuse & neglect, 28(2), 76-94.



  • Hincapie, D., Gilmore, M., Lenox, M., & Stripling, A. (2020). Assessment and treatment of elder abuse in Spanish speaking Americans: A scoping review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 101480.



  •  Chen, R., & Dong, X. (2017). Risk factors of elder abuse. Elder Abuse, 93-107.



  • Hamby, S., Schultz, K., & Elm, J. (2020). Understanding the burden of trauma and victimization among American Indian and Alaska native elders: historical trauma as an element of poly-victimization. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 21(2), 172-186.
  • Crowder, J., Burnett, C., Laughon, K., & Dreisbach, C. (2019). Elder abuse in American Indian communities: An integrative review. Journal of forensic nursing, 15(4), 250-258.



  • Hamby, S., Schultz, K., & Elm, J. (2020). Understanding the burden of trauma and victimization among American Indian and Alaska native elders: historical trauma as an element of poly-victimization. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 21(2), 172-186.



  • Gutman, G. M., Robson, C., & Marchbank, J. (2020). Elder Abuse in the LGBT Community. Advances in Elder Abuse Research, 149-164.


  • Sengstock, M. C., & Gill, B. I. (2016). Elder Abuse and Gender. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, 1-3.



  • Yon, Y., Mikton, C., Gassoumis, Z. D., & Wilber, K. H. (2019). The prevalence of self-reported elder abuse among older women in community settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 20(2), 245-259.



  • Pillemer, K., Burnes, D., & MacNeil, A. (2021). Investigating the connection between ageism and elder mistreatment. Nature Aging, 1(2), 159-164.


Two older men posing in front of a winery field

Toolkits & Guides


Advancing Equity in Aging Toolkit (Justice in Aging)

Tribal Elder Protection Team Toolkit (National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative)

Elder Justice & Racial Justice (National Association of Social Workers)

Increasing Access to Healing Services and Just Outcomes for Older African American Crime Survivors (National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life and National Resource Center for Reaching Victims)

Master Plan for Aging Equity Work Group Equity Tool (California Master Plan for Aging)

My Advance Care Plan & Guide for Native Americans (National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative)

Online Modules for those working with Indigenous elders to identify and address elder abuse in Indian country (National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative)

Restorative Approaches to Elder Justice Toolkit (California Elder Justice Coalition)

Standards and Indicators for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice (National Association of Social Workers)

Understanding Disabilities in American Indian & Alaska Native Communities (National Indian Council on Aging)

Justice for Tribal Elders: Issues Impacting American Indian and Alaska Native Older Adults (Justice in Aging)

National Honor Our LGBTQ+ Elders Day Resource Guide (National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging) 

Last Modified: 07/08/2024