A 93-year-old woman demonstrated "remarkable strength" after being dragged to the ground at a bus stop, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.
She was waiting for a bus in Oldham at about midday on Thursday when two people tried to grab her handbag.
She was injured on her head, knees and hands and was taken to hospital.
Her attackers left the scene empty-handed. A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with attempted robbery.
He is due to appear at Tameside Youth court on 4 September.
Det Sgt Alex Wilkinson said: "This was a violent, cowardly attack on an elderly woman.
"It is hard to imagine what kind of individual would target a vulnerable member of the community and leave them with multiple injuries.
"This attack could have had much graver consequences. It is only due to the remarkable strength of the victim that she has been able to leave hospital and continue her recovery at home."