What can I do if I see abuse in a long-term care home?

1. Learn about abuse

Elder abuse happens when someone limits or controls an 's rights and freedoms. The older adult cannot make choices freely because they're afraid of being hurt or left alone, or that their relationship with the abuser will end.

Who are abusers

Abusers of residents can be:

  • family members
  • spouses or partners
  • other residents
  • caregivers, who are paid or not paid
  • friends or other trusted people in the resident's life
  • people who a resident relies on for financial help
  • staff or the operator of the long-term home
  • anyone else who comes on the property

Types of abuse

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. It can also be abuse if someone is neglected or not cared for properly.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is violence or rough treatment, such as when someone:

  • hits, punches, or pushes an older adult
  • confines or restrains an older adult

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is sexual behaviour that an older adult does not agree to or know is happening, such as:

  • inappropriate touching
  • sexual comments
  • forced sexual contact

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse makes an older adult lose their sense of self. This can happen through:

  • insults, bullying, humiliation, threats, or shaming
  • controlling their activities
  • stopping contact with friends and family

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is when someone controls or takes an older adult's property, including:

  • stealing money or controlling how it's spent
  • putting pressure on the person to sell their belongings, sign legal documents, or give money to relatives or caregivers
  • misusing a , for example, using the person's money for their own benefit

Read more in I’m an older adult. How do I know if I’m being financially abused?


Neglect happens when someone who agreed to provide care to an older adult does not look after their basic needs. This includes:

  • stopping them from getting home care or medical care
  • leaving them in an unsafe place
  • not providing food, proper clothing, or bathing or personal hygiene
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