Elder Abuse Part Five: Neglect

Elder Abuse Part Five: Neglect

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In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, the IACP developed a six-part roll call video series which enables law enforcement to better identify signs of elder abuse and recognize evidence that can lead to a successful prosecution.


According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated four million older adults are the victims of physical, psychological, or other forms of abuse and neglect every year.[1] This number only reflects reported cases, while the true extent of the problem remains unknown. In part five of the roll call video series on elder abuse, the focus turns to the issue of neglect of an older adult. This video depicts two separate cases investigated by the Montgomery County (MD) Police Department showing the various forms of elder neglect.

The first case started when Ms. Kirkland’s son called 911 to report that his mother required medical attention. Although he stated her injuries were not an emergency, EMS soon discovered that the situation was dire. Ms. Kirkland was suffering from severe injuries including, the fusion of her compression stocking to her legs, and a pressure ulcer on her back so severe that her spine was visible. Due to Ms. Kirkland’s condition and lack of necessary medical care, she died a month later. Her son was convicted on two counts of neglect of a vulnerable adult.

A year after the Kirkland case, the Montgomery County Police Department responded to another incident when concerned neighbors called 911 about a woman who was indecently exposed, disoriented, and sitting on the sidewalk in front of her house. As officers investigated what they believed to be Mrs. Smith’s home, they discovered immense amounts of trash and filthy living conditions due to the lack of care by her daughter. Ultimately, Mrs. Smith received the care she needed and was moved to a nursing facility. One of the conditions agreed upon by the court was that the daughter of Mrs. Smith would never be able to care for vulnerable adults again.

Caring for older adults can be difficult, especially if they require medical care or mobility assistance. However, their caretakers are responsible for ensuring they receive proper care. Had it not been for the work of these officers, the district attorney’s office, Adult Protective Services, and the medical staff, Mrs. Smith’s story may have ended differently. The video encourages officers to provide as many descriptive details as possible, including everything they see, smell, and hear when writing their reports. Descriptive details like these can play a critical role in the prosecution of elder abuse cases.

The roll call videos and other elder abuse resources can be found at https://www.theiacp.org/elder-abuse.


[1] “Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions.” American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/pi/aging/resources/guides/elder-abuse

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