Lesson 2
Elderly Victims

Background

    When elderly people are victimized, they usually suffer greater physical, mental, and financial injuries than other age groups. Elderly victims are twice as likely to suffer serious physical injury and to require hospitalization than any other age group. Furthermore, the physiological process of aging brings with it a decreasing ability to heal after injury—both physically and mentally. Thus, elderly victims may never fully recover from the trauma of their victimization. Also, the trauma that elderly victims suffer is worsened by their financial difficulties. Because many elderly people live on a low or fixed income, they often cannot afford the professional services and products that could help them in the aftermath of a crime.

     It is understandable why the elderly are the most fearful of crime. Elderly people, in fact, face a number of additional worries and fears when victimized. First, they may doubt their ability to meet the expectations of law enforcement and worry that officers will think they are incompetent. They may worry that a family member, upon learning of their victimization, will also think they are incompetent. Further, they may fear retaliation by the offender for reporting the crime. Finally, elderly people may experience feelings of guilt for “allowing” themselves to be victimized. Depending on your approach as a first responder, you can do much to restore confidence in and maintain the dignity of the elderly victims you work with.

 

Tips for Responding to Elderly Victims

In all your comments and interactions with elderly victims, their families, and other professionals involved in the case, focus on the goals of restoring confidence to and maintaining the dignity of the elderly victims you work with.