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COVID-19 and Elder Abuse

Undeniably, this is a time of challenge and uncertainty in the shadow of COVID-19 which has profoundly impacted all of our lives. As a world community we are advised, even mandated, to isolate from those closest to us – family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. For older people living in the community or in long-term care settings, the trials are even greater. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) began using the term “physical distancing” in late March, and this makes so much sense.  Social distancing was not meant to mean that we would not stay connected with friends and loved ones.  Human beings need a sense of community and caring.   

Those of us is the elder justice community know that social isolation is one of the greatest risk factors for elder abuse.  We cannot let one catastrophe breed another.  Staying connected, phoning older adults, checking on an older neighbor, writing a card or letter, can all be positive steps to ensure public safety and social justice. 

During this challenging time in our nation’s history, we want to emphasize that there are resources that are available in this time of need and uncertainty.  

Stay informed and reach out: 

• Reach out for help if you are concerned that elder abuse, neglect or exploitation is occurring 

• Call the police or 911 immediately if someone you know is in immediate, life threatening danger 

• Report suspected abuse or exploitation to the local Adult Protective Services or Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program  

• Turn to our FAQs 

• Read our publications for red flags of abuse and more  

• Follow our Tuesday Tips 

• NCEA Tips Video “Staying Connected During Physical Distancing”


Develop safe communication pathways: 

• Follow these tips on staying connected during physical distancing  

• Rely on credible resources such as the Elder Care Locator (1-800-677-1116) to locate help in your area, such as meal delivery, transportation, or credible phone reassurance programs 

• Stay connected and away from scammers. Report COVID-19 related scams to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (1-866-720-5721) 

• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters 

• Given the current COVID-19 crisis, outreach and education is taking place at a distance. National Council on Aging tip sheet provides an overview of some popular tools to reach out to and connect with your audience. 

• Preventing & Managing the Spread of COVID-19 Within Domestic Violence Programs
• FAQs by Guardians about the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tragic as it was, the pandemic drove changes in adult guardianship that may spur improvements for courts, stakeholders and for the lives of at-risk individuals. Now is the time to evaluate those changes carefully, add any needed safeguards, and use them to make the process more just, fair and person-centered. Read about How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Adult Guardianship and Adult Guardianship and the COVID-19 Pandemic

We’re here for you and we’ll pull through this. Together, let’s do our part to prevent elder abuse and promote justice for all.  

*For non-emergencies, please reach out to us during standard business hours for technical assistance and information and referrals. 


• The Medical Care Blog: Scams Come to Life During a Deadly Pandemic
• Elder Abuse and COVID-19 research
Social Security Administration remains committed to providing uninterrupted benefits and vital services to the public
COVID-19: How to Speak With Your Parents About the Pandemic
Considerations for Elder Abuse Victims During the COVID-19 Pandemic
USC Age Friendly Student Senior Connection Program Resources
Staying Connected During COVID-19
Elder Abuse in the COVID-19 Era
• Advocating for Age in an Age of Uncertainty

For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites. 

Our Partners

Adult Protective Services (APS) and COVID-19 National Adult Protective Services Association
Supporting Coronavirus Prevention in Long-Term Care Facilities Information for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs
LGBT Aging and COVID-19 Older Survivors and COVID-19
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 COVID-19 Tribal Elder Resources  
Safe Exit