Document Type

Care of the Elderly

Publication Date



The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging estimates 5 percent of all elderly in America are being abused, neglected or exploited annually. The National Committee for Prevention of Elder Abuse estimates that one million older individuals are abused or neglected each year in the United States.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services indicates 5 percent of the elderly population in the state is approximately 40,000 people. Currently, the Department of Human Services works with 2,000 cases per month. If these estimates are accurate, many cases of elder abuse and neglect are going unreported in Tennessee. Instead of enjoying their later years, many older citizens are forced to live in fear in their own homes, suffer pain and neglect or die from injuries inflicted by others.

Elder abuse often goes unreported because victims are ashamed, unaware of how to report abuse or fearful of retaliation if they report the abuse. Elder abuse and neglect can be prevented or stopped if family members monitor the well-being of elders and report known or suspected abuse and neglect to the Tennessee Department of Human Services. Tennessee law requires that any person (family member, friend, neighbor, doctor, dentist, etc.) who has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult has suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation must report it. Contact the local office of the Tennessee Department of Human Services in writing, by telephone or in person. Check the telephone directory for the telephone number of the local county office of the Department of Human Services. All 95 Tennessee counties have a local office of the Department of Human Services.

Publication Number

PB1414-2M-3/91 E12-2015-00-231-91

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