Elder Abuse

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is any act that causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust. The abuser may be a son or daughter, grandchild, partner, other family member, friend or neighbor

What are the types and signs of elder abuse?

Elder abuse can take many forms. Often more than one type of abuse can be used.

Emotional (or psychological) abuse: pressuring, bullying, belittling, name calling. Threatening to harm a person, other people or pets.

Signs of emotional abuse may include distress, fear, anxiety, confusion and/or depression with low mood.

Neglect: failing to provide the basic necessities of life, either intentionally or unintentionally. This includes providing inadequate food, medical care or warmth.

Signs of neglect may include unexplained conditions such as hypothermia, dehydration, pressure sores and/or weight loss.  

Financial abuse: using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or forcing someone to change their will or sign documents.

Signs of financial abuse may include an unexplainable inability to find the money for basics such as food, clothing, transport costs and bills. This may also coincide with reports of missing belongings such as jewelry and electronic equipment.

Physical abuse: inflicting pain or injury by hitting, slapping, pushing or using restraints.

Signs of physical abuse may include reports pain or restricted movement and present with bruises, bite marks, cuts, burns and/ or scratches. There may also be evidence of unexplained accidents or injuries.

Social abuse: forcing someone to become isolated by restricting their access to others including family, friends or services.

Signs of social abuse include withholding mail, not allowing phone calls or listening in to calls and/or preventing involvement in religious or cultural practices.

Sexual Abuse: any sexual activity for which the person has not consented.

What to do if you suspect elder abuse is occurring?

If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through the confidential helpline at Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821. If it is an emergency, call 000.