Medical Technology

Surge in Elder Abuse Caused by Pandemic

Social isolation, stay-at-home measures, and staff shortages at long-term care facilities have been implicated in the sharp increase in elder abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What to know:

  • Elder abuse, already on the rise, has skyrocketed during the pandemic. A Yale University study found an 83.6% increase from pre-pandemic estimates in reports of mistreated older adults sheltering at home during April and May 2020.

  • Social distancing and stay-at-home directives prevented social workers as well as family members from being able to check on older adults in person, and in some cases caused older people to spend lockdowns with abusers.

  • Laura Mosqueda, MD, director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, says the intensity of abuse also increased, with pandemic-related stressors on caregivers contributing to escalation of verbal abuse and physical violence.

  • In addition, the pandemic has led to situations in which older people are more vulnerable to financial harm, such as fraudulent real estate transactions conducted online and easier theft of money and personal items in care facilities.

  • An aging population and a lack of trained caregivers mean that even when the pandemic ends, experts anticipate that elder abuse will continue to increase.

This is a summary of the article “Elder Abuse Spreads, Stoked by the Pandemic” published by The Wall Street Journal on December 28, 2021. The full article can be found on

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