from the aging network (Anetzberger, 2000). Each of these approaches is discussed below, drawing heavily from child abuse and domestic violence intervention experiences in light of limited knowledge specific to elder abuse. As noted in a recent volume on violence in families (Chalk and King, 1998), major issues especially challenging to effective interventions in the area of elder abuse include the degree of dependence between offenders and victims, limited funding for programming support, and striking a balance between privacy and individual rights.
Over the last 30 years, the legal system’s response to most forms of domestic violence has gradually shifted from one in which the maltreatment of family members was tolerated and even condoned to one of almost universal condemnation. This change is reflected in criminal law, tort law, family law, immigration law, and even international human rights law. During the 1970s, for example, a series of international and national conferences on child abuse, woman abuse, and abuse of the elderly resulted in new laws and initiatives at all levels of jurisdictions designed to cope with these concerns in both the United States and Canada. Some of these efforts represented extensions and revisions of existing civil and criminal statutes, while others were attempts at new forms of intervention and services. The end result was that, in one manner or another, new statutes concerning domestic violence in all its forms are now in place throughout North America. However, there are still fewer legal options available to older victims than for other victims of domestic violence (Jaffe et al., 1996).
All U.S. states and Canadian provinces have enacted special adult protection legislation (McDonald and Collins, 2000). Influenced by child welfare models, such legislation provides legal powers of investigation, intervention, and mandatory reporting. Typically, these methods give extensive powers of investigation to specific agencies, including the authority to apply to the court for provision of services to those found incapable. To assist in implementation of these legal interventions, some communities have developed resource networks consisting of local health, social service, and legal agencies that provide resources to respond to elder abuse and neglect in an integrated and cooperative manner (see Coordinated Community Responses, below). Such networks provide a continuum of services to abused adults, act as a resource for service providers, and offer reliable and consistent service to consumers (McDonald and Collins, 2000).
Adult protection laws relating to the elderly closely resemble the pro-