Elder Abuse

The Elder Abuse Law, enacted in MA in 1983, defines elder abuse as an act or omission that results in serious physical or emotional injury to, or financial exploitation of, any individual age 60 or over by a person with whom he or she has a relationship. This could be a relative, friend, or caregiver.

Elder abuse may take the forms of physical and sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

Warning Signals

Physical and Sexual Abuse

  • Suspicious bruises or other injuries
  • Rope burns or other signs of restraints
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

  • Insults, threats, social isolation
  • Elder is extremely withdrawn or unresponsive
  • Other unusual behavior


  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Untreated bed sores
  • Unattended health problems or lack of necessary aids such as eyeglasses or dentures
  • Unsanitary living conditions (lice, soiled bedding, etc.)
  • Inadequate clothing, no heat or running water

Financial Exploitation

  • Unexplained bank withdrawals
  • Unauthorized use of credit, ATM or debit cards
  • Stolen or “misplaced” card or checkbook
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other documents
  • Unexplained transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
  • Disappearance of valuables
  • Ill-advised investments
  • Sudden appearance of a previously uninvolved relative claiming a right to an elder’s affairs or possessions

Mandated Reporters of Elder Abuse
Mandated reporters include: physicians, dentists, nurses, family counselors, probation officers, social workers, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, licensed psychologists, coroners, registered physical therapists and occupational therapists, podiatrists, executive directors of homemaker service agencies, and executive directors of licensed home health agencies.

Anyone reporting alleged abuse in good faith shall not be liable in any civil or criminal action provided he or she did not inflict the abuse. The identity of the reporter is strictly confidential.

Elder Abuse Services
Report elder abuse to:

Protective Services Department at Minuteman Senior Services at 781-272-7177 or 978-263-8720.

After work hours, nights, and weekends, abuse should be reported to the state-wide Elder Abuse toll-free hotline at 1-800-922-2275. A protective services worker will be on call to respond, if necessary while keeping confidential the sources of the report, Elder Services will contact the elder to assess the circumstances and the risk of abuse.

Minuteman Senior Services
25 Third Avenue
Burlington, MA
781-272-7177 or 978-263-8720
Serving the following communities: Acton, Arlington, Bedford, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn

You may also call Springwell, Watertown, MA at 617-926-4100
Or go directly to their Elder Protective Services hotline number: 1-800-922-2275
Hours are 8:00 AM-5:00 PM weekdays.
Serving the following communities: Ashland, Dover, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Natick, Newton, Needham, Sherborn, Sudbury, Waltham, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston

Violence Against Older Women
There is no age limit to becoming a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence affects victims of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, cultures, geographic areas, sexual orientations, genders, and professions. Domestic violence in later life can be perpetrated against someone healthy, ailing, or disabled. A partner, spouse, or companion can perpetrate the abuse. Often the abuser is the primary caregiver, thus making the victim even more dependent on the abuser and isolated from others.  Learn more about violence against older women...

Elder Abuse Statistics
As the general population ages, estimates of domestic violence among the elderly are expected to increase dramatically putting pressure on service providers.