Abuse in Later Life Lab

Research laboratory devoted to addressing abuse in later life and elder abuse by creating resource-rich, connected communities.


Researchers and health officials across Virginia, the U.S., and the globe are sounding the alarm: Cases of abuse have skyrocketed (Jain, 2021; Peitzmeier, et al., 2021; UN, 2021). Described as “a pandemic within a pandemic” (Evans et al., 2020), evidence shows the COVID-19 pandemic led to a stark increase in the number of cases of elder abuse (Chang & Levy, 2021). Even before the pandemic altered life as we knew it, cases of elder abuse had been steadily rising. For each case of elder abuse that gets reported, there may be as many as 42 cases that are never reported, depending on the type of abuse (Lachs & Berman, 2011). 

The Abuse in Later Life Lab has a mission to mitigate challenges and barriers to reporting elder abuse, to develop and measure training interventions practitioners, older adults, caregivers, and “first-line” community members, and to disseminate tools and data to strengthen services that help keep us safe -- at any age and at every age.

Currently staffed by a team of students and faculty, the Lab provides a number of opportunities for student involvement. We welcome additional student engagement with this important work.


Virginia HEAR has launched! Check out our new site page for Virginia Helping Elders Access Resources: Click Here

ACL Awards Over $3 Million to Improve Results for APS Clients: ACL is awarding six Elder Justice Innovation Grants that seek to improve results for adult protective services (APS) clients. The two-year cooperative agreements total $3,111,147. The Elder Abuse Lab received $1.3 million to mitigate challenges and barriers to reporting elder abuse by developing and disseminating an interactive, web-based “Safety Connector” for use by practitioners, older adults, and caregivers who seek to link themselves or others to systems of care. Read more


Dr. Sarah Marrs

Courtney O'Hara

Catherine MacDonald

Aisling Clardy