The Definition of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an umbrella term used to describe one or more of the following:

  • Physical abuse is the willful infliction of physical pain or injury, such as slapping, bruising, or restraining.
  • Sexual abuse is the infliction of non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional anguish, such as humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Financial or material exploitation is the improper act or process of an individual, using the resources of an older person, without his/her consent, for someone else’s benefit.
  • Neglect is the failure of a caretaker to provide goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish or mental illness, such as abandonment, denial of food or health related services.

Signs and Symptoms

The following are warning signs of elder abuse:

  • Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person
  • Changes in personality or behavior in the elder
  • Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars
  • Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
  • Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that you witness
  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
  • Untreated physical problems, such as bed sore

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