Elder abuse is often hidden. An older person may not identify what’s happening to them as abuse. They may cover up the signs due to fear of what may happen if anyone finds out or they might be unaware that the perpetrator’s actions are a form of abuse.
Be aware of the signs of elder abuse and watch for them in your work. Remember, abuse may be occur without any indicators or signs, and some signs may be caused by something other than abuse. Even if you are not sure, it is best to follow up on any suspicion of elder abuse.
See ‘What are the risk factors for elder abuse?‘ for more information.
Elder abuse can be emotional or psychological, physical, financial, social or sexual. Often more than one type of abuse can occur. See ‘What is Elder Abuse’ for information about the types of elder abuse that can occur.
Examples of emotional (or psychological) abuse include:
Signs of emotional (or psychological) abuse include:
Examples of neglect include:
Signs of neglect include:
Examples of financial abuse include:
Signs of financial abuse include:
Examples of physical abuse include:
Signs of physical abuse include:
Examples of social abuse include:
Signs of social abuse include:
Examples of sexual abuse include:
Signs of sexual abuse include:
The complex dynamics in which abuse occurs makes it difficult to determine or identify all factors associated with an increased risk of abuse, however being aware of the risk factors can help you to identify potential elder abuse situations.
Below are a range of circumstances that increase the chance of abuse. The greater number of these factors that influence the situation, the greater the risk of abuse.
Combinations of these factors may indicate a need for additional support and services to reduce the risk of abuse. Remember, an older person who experiences none of these risk factors may still experience elder abuse.
Circumstances that may increase the chance of abuse:
‘Age’ itself is also risk factor. Ageism and attitudes to ageing/older people can place people at risk by causing actual abuse or other risk factors to be overlooked, dismissed or minimised. See ‘What is risk assessment’ [link] for more information on assessing someone’s risk.