OBJECTIVES: Aging is a rising phenomenon globally and elder abuse is becoming increasingly recognized as a health and social problem. This review aimed to identify the prevalence of elder abuse in community settings, and discuss issues regarding measurement tools and strategies to measure elderly abuse by systematically reviewing all community-based studies conducted worldwide. METHOD: Articles on elder abuse from 1990 to 2011 were reviewed. A total of 1,832 articles referring to elders residing at home either in their own or at relatives' houses were searched via CINAHL and MEDLINE electronic databases, in addition to a hand search of the latest articles in geriatric textbooks and screening references, choosing a total of 26 articles for review. RESULTS: Highest prevalence was reported in developed countries, with Spain having 44.6% overall prevalence of suspicion of abuse and developing countries exhibiting lower estimates, from 13.5% to 28.8%. Physical abuse was among the least encountered, with psychological abuse and financial exploitation being the most common types of maltreatment reported. To date, there is no single gold standard test to ascertain abuse, with numerous tools and different methods employed in various studies, coupled with varying definitions of thresholds for age. CONCLUSION: Current evidences show that elder abuse is a common problem in both developed and developing countries. It is important that social, health care, and legal systems take these findings into consideration in screening for abuse or reforming existing services to protect the health and welfare of the elderly.