A Victim-Centered Approach to Elder Abuse Investigations

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 20, 2022

Ann Laatsch
Ann Laatsch, JD
Justice System Coordinator
Chris Merkle
Christopher Merkle

One in ten adults over the age of 60 has experienced one or more forms of abuse – physical or sexual assault, neglect, or financial exploitation. However, communities often struggle to identify, respond to, and prevent elder abuse. Ineffective response can result from lack of training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and court staff. It may also be due to lack of coordination across systems and disciplines. Factors such as ageism, family dynamics, fear, isolation, health concerns, and financial constraints can impair an older victim’s ability or willingness to report abuse. Furthermore, in many communities, there is a lack of funding to address elder abuse and provide services to victims.

Investigations that are victim-centered can support, empower, and respect older victims, even when charges are not ultimately filed. Crimes against vulnerable adults can have a devastating impact on victims, who are often left feeling more vulnerable than prior to their victimization. The control they had over their lives may be replaced with fear, isolation, and a daunting and unfamiliar criminal justice process. When the victim lacks capacity, the challenges can be even greater. This session will explore the unique challenges and opportunities of investigating crimes against older victims with the twin goals of perpetrator accountability and victim safety.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Discuss victim-centered investigative strategies and evidence collection in elder abuse cases.
  • Identify and work collaboratively with key partners to support older victims and determine if a crime has occurred.
  • Assess victim safety and support regardless of whether the case is charged.
  • Describe opportunities to fund local training, victim services, and coordinated community response to elder abuse.


EVAWI is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing to provide Continuing Education contact hours for nurses (Provider #15641). 

Registered Nurses may purchase 1.5 contact hours after completing this webinar.

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