Toolkit Page Verbiage

Get the Facts

Elder abuse can occur anywhere. Elder abuse affects elders of all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. Data shows that elders are most often abused by family members or persons in positions of trust. Most victims know their abusers. Elders who have the highest risk of abuse are women, “older elders” and individuals with dementia.



Emotional Abuse

The intentional or reckless infliction of emotional or mental anguish or the use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication, or isolation as punishment or as a substitute for treatment or care of any elderly person.


Financial Exploitation

The use of deception, intimidation, undue influence, force, or threat of force to obtain or exert unauthorized control over an elderly person’s property with the intent to deprive the elderly person of his or her property or the breach of a fiduciary duty to an elderly person by the person’s guardian, conservator, or agent under a power of attorney which results in an unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the elderly person’s property.



The failure of a caregiver to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical services, medication, or health care for an elderly person.


Physical Abuse

The intentional use of physical pain, injury, or the willful deprivation by a caregiver or other person of services necessary to maintain mental and physical health. Examples: assault involving physical injury or serious physical injury which may be evident by hitting, striking, cutting, burning, pushing or shoving, excessively restraining, and physical punishment.


Sexual Offenses

Any conduct that is a crime as defined in Sections 13A-6-60 to 13A-6-70, inclusive. (Which may include rape, sodomy, or sexual abuse by forcible compulsion or incapacity of the victim.)

Definitions above are from the Protecting Alabama’s Elders Act. Definitions from Alabama’s Adult Protective Services Act of 1976 are on the back.



Definitions from the Alabama Adult Protective Services Act of 1976



The infliction of physical pain, injury, or the willful deprivation by a caregiver or other person of services necessary to maintain mental and physical health.


Emotional Abuse

The infliction of physical pain, injury, or the willful deprivation by a caregiver or other person of services necessary to maintain mental and physical health.



The expenditure, diminution, or use of the property, assets, or resources of a protected person without the express voluntary consent of that person or his or her legally authorized representative.



The failure of a caregiver to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical services, or health care for the person unable to care for himself or herself; or the failure of the person to provide these basic needs for himself or herself when the failure is a result of the person’s mental or physical inability.


Sexual Abuse

Any conduct that is a crime as defined in Sections 13A-6-60 to 13A-6-70, inclusive. (Which may include rape, sodomy, or sexual abuse by forcible compulsion or incapacity of the victim or indecent exposure.)


Additional Information

Other acts of abuse or exploitation may come within other provisions of law, such as: sexually explicit photographing, theft by deception, forgery of documents, sexual servitude, etc.



The Red Flags


Emotional Abuse

  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, or unexplained changes in alertness
  • Social isolation
  • Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, overly concerned about spending money, or uncaring



  • Person with a caregiver, guardian/conservator whose personal needs are not being met.
  • Elder giving excessive financial reimbursement/gifts for needed care and companionship.
  • Caregiver has control of elder’s finances but fails to provide for elder’s needs.
  • Elder has signed property transfers (Power of Attorney, new will, etc.) but is unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means.



  • Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing .
  • Person with dementia left unsupervised
  • Person confined to a bed left without care.
  • Person confined to a bed left without care/li & gt;
  • Home cluttered, filthy, in state of disrepair, or with fire and safety hazards.
  • Home without adequate facilities (stove, refrigerator, heating, cooling, working plumbing, and electricity).
  • Untreated pressure “bed” sores (pressure ulcers).


Physical Abuse

    • Unexplained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, burns, torn or bloody undergarments.

Be Aware of Scams

Elders are the #1 target for financial scams. Scam operators use four primary methods to target elders -the telephone, the internet, the mail, and in-person. Scam operators use high-pressure sales tactics, scare tactics, and false claims to deceive you and take your money.



-Telephone scams are big business. If a stranger asks for your private information, hang up. Do not give your bank account or credit card information or your Medicare or Social Security Number to strangers (even if they claim to be law enforcement) over the telephone. Beware of:

  • Social Security Number to strangers (even if they claim to be law enforcement) over the telephone.
  • Grandparent Scam – You receive a call from someone claiming to be the “police” saying your grandchild is in jail and needs a certain amount of money to be released.
  • Bank Scam – You receive a call from “your bank” saying there is an issue with your account, and they need to verify your account number.
  • Government Imposter Scams – You receive a call from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration, Medicare, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other government agency, and the caller states there is an issue with or a change to your record. Do not give your Medicare, Social Security Number, or other personal information to them.



-Internet scams targeted at elders are on the rise faster than any other age group, and elders need to be cautious when using the internet. When you use the internet, take these necessary precautions:

  • Use passwords, secure browsers, fire walls and virus protection. Avoid pop-ups.
  • Check the site’s privacy policy before you order anything.
  • Not all websites are secure. Look for https in the web address.
  • Do not use public wi-fi if your action requires you to provide private information (such as personal information or credit card number, expiration date, and Card Verification Value (CVV) number on back of card).
  • Keep your personal information private.
  • Review all monthly credit card, bank, and other financial statement



-Do not send money to people or businesses you do not know. Examples of mail scams are:

  • You receive a letter from someone stating you have won money or will receive a free gift. The letter has your name and address and appears to be written just for you. However, the letter states you must send money or pay a fee to receive the prize or gift. This is a scam. Do not respond or send money.
  • Other mail scams include illegal foreign lotteries and sweepstakes. Do not send money or pay fees. Do not cash the check or deposit it into your account. If you do, once the check is determined to be fraudulent, you will be responsible for any of the money you have spent.
  • Keep your money and your personal information safe. If you have any doubt about whether or not the mailing you have received is real, verify with a trusted source before taking any other action.



– Do not let anyone in your home whom you do not know or did not initiate the contact. Beware of the following:

  • Anyone you do not know or did not contact who offers to sell you something or provide a service.
  • Anyone you do not know or did not contact who offers a great deal on home repairs.
  • Anyone you do not know or did not contact who wants to discuss your finances.
  • Anyone who says he/she is from a utility company and needs to check your meters, appliances, or other items in your house. Contact the company to verify that they have sent someone to your home.

Always use caution before letting someone you do not know enter your home.

If you suspect that you have been scammed, report it. If you are not sure whom to contact. Call the office of the Attorney General, the Alabama Securities Commission, your local Area Agency on Aging, or one of the other agencies listed in the Resources section of this booklet.

Power of Attorney


There is a lot of power in having a Power of Attorney when you need it. Just make sure you give that power to someone you absolutely trust!



It is important for elders and their family members to make sure all financial and legal affairs are in order to protect their finances, their home, and their assets. It is essential to learn how important these legal documents are and how to be protected from being financially exploited before they sign on the bottom line and give someone complete control of their assets.



Financial Power of Attorney
This document gives another person (your agent) the authority to manage your finances and property and to transact business on your behalf. An agent may not override your wishes and must make decisions that are in your best interest. A financial Power of Attorney normally goes into effect as soon as you sign it allowing your agent to conduct your financial affairs immediately. A financial Power of Attorney can also be made for the future only if you are incapacitated.

Limited Power of Attorney
This document gives the agent legal authority to perform only limited tasks on your behalf, but does not give him or her complete control over your financial matters. For example, you can give your agent the authority to cash your checks, but limit him or her to other powers over your assets.

Healthcare Power of Attorney
With a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. It goes into effect only if you become incapacitated. By preparing this document in advance, you can decide who will make your medical decisions.



Choose your Agent carefully
Only appoint someone as your agent if you know that you can absolutely trust him or her to make good decisions about your finances, health, and assets.

Consider getting legal advice first
An attorney can counsel you on the different ways the documents can be set up to meet your needs, and perhaps avoid financial exploitation.

Consider establishing oversight
For example, you may want to include a statement of your agent’s fiduciary duty in your legal document and require your agent to sign the document which acknowledges his or her acceptance of the fiduciary duty. Also, you may want to require your agent to send regular accountings to another person or persons.

Understand you can change your mind
If you decide to change who you appointed as your agent, you can revoke the document as long as you are mentally capable of understanding your decision.



Alabama Better Business Bureau
Offers a variety of consumer services, including consumer education materials; business reports; mediation and arbitration services; and information about charities and organizations that are seeking public donations.
Toll Free: 1-800-824-5274

Alabama Department of Human Resources (Adult Abuse Hotline)
Protects elderly and disabled adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and prevents unnecessary institutionalization
Toll Free 1-800-458-7214

Alabama Department of Insurance
Regulates the insurance industry, providing consumer protection, promoting market stability, and enforcing fire safety standards and laws.
Toll Free 1-800-433-3966

Alabama Department of Mental Health
Serves Alabamians with intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders.
Toll Free 1-800-367-0955

Alabama Department of Public Health Nursing Home Complaint Assisted Living Complaint
Provides caring, high quality, and professional services for the improvement and protection of the public’s health
Toll Free 1-800-356-9596
Toll Free 1-800-873-0366

Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS)
Provides a wide array of services and programs to seniors and persons with disabilities of any age.
Toll Free 1-877-425-2243

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP)
Provides quality, legally based advocacy services to Alabamians with disabilities in order to protect, promote and expand their rights.
Toll Free 1-800-826-1675

Alabama Securities Commission
Provides for licensing and regulation of securities broker-dealers, agents, investment advisors, investment advisor representatives, and financial planners. Call to verify proper registration of financial investments.
Toll Free 1-800-222-1253

Area Agency on Aging
Serves as the focal point on aging to coordinate public and private resources to help foster independence and enhance the quality of life for seniors.
Toll Free 1-800-243-5463

Attorney General’s Office – Consumer Protection Victim Assistance
Serves as legal counsel to Alabama’s state agencies, departments, and officers.
Toll Free 1-800-392-5658
Toll Free 1-800-626-7676

“Do Not Call” Registry
Register phone numbers to reduce telemarketing.
Toll Free 1-888-382-1222
TTY 1-866-290-4236

Legal Services Alabama
Statewide, non-profit organization that provides free legal aid and assistance to educate and empower Alabama’s low-income population.
Toll Free 1-866-456-4995

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Provides strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality, affordable homes for all Americans.
Toll Free 1-800-225-5342
TTY 1-800-877-8339

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) Eldercare Locator Service
Provides information and links to services on crimes against the elderly, including financial exploitation.
Toll Free 1-800-677-1116

National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Assists with credit problems and creditors.
Toll Free 1-800-388-2227

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Provides confidential suicide prevention to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Toll Free 1-800-273-8255

The National Center for Victims of Crime
Provides national advocacy for victims of all crimes.
Toll Free 1-800-394-2255

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Provides consumer protection related to abusive lending, truth in lending credit cards, identity theft, franchises, businesses, telemarking, funerals, and cemeteries.
Toll Free 1-888-382-1222

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Inspector General
Investigates identity theft involving the U.S. mail: if mail was stolen, mailing address was fraudulently changed, or mail was used in an identity theft scheme.
Toll Free 1-800-654-8896

Senior Legal Assistance Program
Provides a statewide system of legal professionals who provide services for older adults with personal legal problems
Toll Free 1-800-243-5463