Prosecutors Keep Older Pennsylvanians Safe from Abuse

May 19, 2023

By Kelly Callihan, Esq.

Older people are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of abuse, neglect, or financial crimes. Criminals prey on older people because they often have financial stability, a caring nature, and ease in trusting others. They also may have physical or cognitive health issues that increase their vulnerability to crime and abuse.

That is why prosecutors across Pennsylvania have taken the lead in their counties to protect older people from crime and educate them about mistreatment.

Prosecutors serve on county Elder Abuse Task Forces, which work collaboratively to keep older people safe and help them find support in their community. Most district attorney offices also participate in anti-fraud and abuse programs designed to educate older people and their family members about being safe in their homes, on the internet, and on the phone.

Older people need to be vigilant against falling for online or telephone scams. One example involves a caller convincing an older person that his or her grandchild is in danger or detained. The scammer then demands money, bank account numbers, and personal information from the victim.

Prosecutors also work collectively with police and local service providers, including county Area Agencies on Aging, to identify elder physical, sexual, and financial abuse and hold offenders accountable. Some district attorney offices, mostly in larger counties, also have special elder abuse units with specially trained employees who handle cases and support victims through the criminal court process.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is scheduled for June 15, 2023. It is designed to raise awareness on how we may be able to prevent abuse, neglect, and crimes targeting the older people in our lives.

Below are some resources on combatting elder abuse:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Office

Pennsylvania Department of Aging

If you suspect abuse or neglect of an elderly or care dependent citizen, you may report it by calling local police or contact the state’s 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505.

If you suspect an elder citizen is being subject to financial crimes, please contact your local police department or county Area Agency of Aging.


Kelly Callihan, Esq., is PDAA’s Counsel for Policy and External Relations. A career prosecutor and former district attorney, Callihan has prosecuted child abuse cases, felony sexual assaults, and violent crimes in both juvenile and adult courts. She also spearheaded the creation of programs and task forces to enhance victim services in the criminal justice system.