Elder Abuse

Most cases of elder abuse are undetected, under reported, and unresolved resulting in injury, financial decimation, and even death. The National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI) was created to address the lack of culturally appropriate information and community education materials on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in Indian Country.

Types of Elder Abuse and Warning Signs

Physical Abuse

Verbal attacks, threats, rejection, isolation, or belittling to cause mental anguish or distress to an elder

  • Warning Signs: Withdrawal from normal activities and unexplained changes in alertness

Sexual Abuse

Sexual contact that is forced, tricked, threatened, or coerced upon an elder, including those who are unable to grant consent

  • Warning Signs: Bruises around the breasts or genital areas and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases


Theft, fraud, misuse, or neglect of authority to gain control over an elder’s assets

  • Warning Signs: Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as loans or gifts, and loss of property


Failure, refusal, or desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone with a duty to care for him or her

  • Warning Signs: Pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition, or dehydration

Spiritual Abuse

Causing harm to an elder’s spiritual well-being

  • Warning Signs: Not taking elders to spiritual ceremonies or taking elders’ ceremonial items