What can I do if an older adult is being abused?

1. Understand what elder abuse is

Elder abuse happens when someone limits or controls an 's rights and freedoms. The person often becomes afraid and thinks that they can no longer make their own choices.

Who are abusers

Older adults are usually abused by someone they know and often by someone they trust and care about.

Abusers tend to have control or influence, such as providing food, shelter, personal care, or companionship.

Abusers can be:

  • family members
  • spouses or partners
  • roommates, neighbours, or landlords
  • caregivers, who are paid or not paid
  • service providers hired to work around a person's home or property
  • friends or other trusted people in a person's life

Types of abuse

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

All abuse is wrong. But not all abuse is a crime. For example, if a tells someone they're worthless, that's abuse. But it's not a crime. If a caregiver hits an older adult, it's a crime.

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
  • living with the person without paying for rent or expenses
  • putting pressure on the person to sell their belongings, sign legal documents, or give money to relatives or caregivers


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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