Elder Abuse pp 615-628 | Cite as

Shades of Charles Dickens: Elder Abuse Policy Past, Present, and Yet to Be

  • Brian W. LindbergEmail author
  • Pamela B. Teaster


The path from the societal definition of elder abuse as a family matter or, at best, a social problem to the societal recognition of and action on elder abuse as a crime has been long, arduous, and circuitous. Although elder abuse dates back to the beginning of human history, the problem has only recently gained traction as both a political issue and one acknowledged by the general public. Measured against its sister problems of child abuse and intimate partner violence, attention to elder abuse comes in dead last in terms of political awareness and public and private funding for addressing the problem. The belated arrival of elder abuse in the public conscience is emblematic of the problem itself—elder abuse is a complex, wicked problem with contributing factors running the gamut from micro to macro levels of society. The complexity and scope of the problem mean that it must be addressed using a committed, interdisciplinary approach engaging the brightest and most dedicated minds possible. In the chapter on elder abuse that follows, we examine the past, present, and future of the most significant federal laws: the Elder Justice Act, the Older Americans Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and Social Security Block Grants. In addition, we discuss the White House Conference on Aging and the Crime Victims Fund, both of which have played an important part in addressing the issue and problem of elder abuse.


Crime victims fund Stakeholders Abuse allegations Financial exploitation Foreign affairs Elder justice Federal regulations Ombudsman program Lasting injuries Social services 


  1. 1.
    Administration on Aging (n.d.). The Older Americans Act. Retrieved from
  2. 2.
    American Society on Aging, Aging Today. Assistant Secretary of aging sees network at a crossroads—and a place of new opportunities. 2016. Retrieved from:
  3. 3.
    Atchley RC. A continuity theory of normal aging. The Gerontologist 1989;29(2), 183–90. Retrieved from:
  4. 4.
    Churchman CW. Guest Editorial. J Manag Sci. 1967;14(4).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Crime Victims Fund, Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Briefing Background 2017. National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators 2016. Retrieved from:
  6. 6.
    Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (n.d.). The 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Retrieved from
  7. 7.
    Dickens C, A Christmas Carol, (copyright: 2004). Retrieved from:
  8. 8.
    Dubble C. A policy perspective on elder justice through APS and law enforcement collaboration. In: Mellor MJ, Brownell P, editors. Elder abuse and mistreatment: policy, practice, and research. New York: The Haworth Press; 2006. p. 40.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, September 2014. Retrieved from:
  10. 10.
    Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. National network to end domestic violence. 2010. Retrieved from:
  11. 11.
    Late Life Domestic Violence. What the aging network needs to know, National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) Issue Brief. 2006. Retrieved from:
  12. 12.
    Lindberg BW, Sabatino CP, Esq, Blancato RB. Bringing national action to a national disgrace: the history of the elder justice act. 2011. Retrieved from:
  13. 13.
    Lynch KE. Social Services Block Grant: Background and funding. Congressional Research Service. 2016. Retrieved from:
  14. 14.
    National Adult Protective Association (NAPSA). History: About Adult Protective Services from 1960 to 2000. 2016. Retrieved from:
  15. 15.
    National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (n.d.). VOCA funding. Retrieved from:
  16. 16.
    Office of Justice Programs. Elderly crime victims: National Crime Victimization Survey. 1994. Retrieved from
  17. 17.
    Office of Victims of Crime (n.d.). OVC fact sheet: Crime Victims Fund. Retrieved from
  18. 18.
    Otto JM. The role of adult protective services in addressing abuse. 2000. Retrieved from:
  19. 19.
    Rittel HWJ, Webber MM. Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sci. 1973;4(2):155–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Teaster PB, Wangmo T, Anetzberger G. A glass half full: the dubious history of elder mistreatment policy. J Elder Abuse Negl. 2010;22(1/2):6–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Violence Against Women Act. National Network to End Domestic Violence. 2013. Retrieved from:
  22. 22.
    Violence Against Women Act. US Department of Justice. 2016. Retrieved from:
  23. 23.
    White House Conference on Aging. Wikipedia. 2016. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Elder Justice CoalitionWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Gerontology (0555)BlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations