Concerned about someone else

How to help someone who may be experiencing elder abuse

It is upsetting to see someone you care about being taken advantage of or mistreated. Sometimes it is hard to work out exactly what is happening, but you might feel something isn’t quite right.

This booklet will help you understand abuse and what it looks like in families or relationships. When someone in a position of trust causes harm to an older person it is considered elder abuse. This harm can be through neglect or physical, emotional, sexual, social or financial abuse

Download the PDF

Signs that something isn't right


Emotional or psychological abuse

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse; pressuring; bullying; and threats to harm the person, other people or pets.

Look out for:

  • fear, depression
  • confusion
  • loneliness and feelings of helplessness.


Neglect is when someone’s everyday needs are not provided for. It includes restricting food, medical care, warmth or dental care. Family
friends or a carer might receive the Carer Allowance but not actually provide care.

Look out for:

  • hunger or thirst
  • pressure sores
  • having lost a lot of weight; the wrong clothing for the weather conditions
  • an environment that is dangerous or dirty

Financial abuse

Financial abuse includes using someone’s property, finance or other assets illegally or wrongly. Abusers may borrow money and not repay it; use the older person’s accounts, credit cards, online banking or digital passwords without permission; apply pressure to hand over personal property like jewellery; or misuse an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Look out for:

  • unpaid bills or unusual activity in bank accounts or on credit cards
  • changes to a Will
  • title or other documents
  • missing possessions
  • or the inability to find the money for basics such as food, clothing, transport costs and bills.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse includes hitting or shoving the older person, or restraining them by locking them in a room, building or yard. Wrongly using alcohol, medications, household chemicals or poisons on the person is also physical abuse.

Look out for:

  • fear or anxiety
  • pain
  • bruises
  • bite marks
  • cuts or burns
  • unexplained accidents or injuries such as broken bones or sprains
  • over- or under-use of sedation
  • and conflicting or unrealistic stories about injuries.

Social abuse

Social abuse isolates a person from family, friends, social groups and services. The abuser may withhold mail; not allow phone calls or listen in on calls; or prevent the older person’s involvement in religious or cultural practices.

Look out for:

  • sadness at loss of contact with others
  • withdrawal or abnormal fatigue; and loss of self-esteem.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual contact, language or behaviour, and includes rape; rough or inappropriate touching or washing of an older person’s genital areas; and watching sexually explicit material or making sexually explicit phone calls around the older person without their consent.

Look out for:

  • unexplained sexually transmitted disease
  • recent bladder or bowel incontinence
  • pain or internal injuries
  • bruises or bite marks
  • bleeding around genitals, chest, rectum or mouth
  • torn or bloody underclothing or bedding
Download the PDF

Where to get help


What if someone is in immediate danger?

Call the police on 000 if someone is in danger.

Police can also conduct regular welfare checks and offer specialised advice through Victoria Police family violence advisors (FVA), family violence liaison officers (FVLOs), and family violence management officers (FVMOs).

Call Seniors Rights Victoria's helpline

Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people.

Tel: 1300 368 821  Monday to Friday, 10am–5pm

You can also check out our resources and tip sheets.

Other organisations

Visit our Other Organisations page for other services that you can call to support the person you are concerned about.

If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through our confidential helpline on 1300 368 821.

If it is an emergency, call 000.
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