Elder abuse occurs when someone knowingly or unknowingly causes harm or a risk of harm to an older adult. Elderly abuse can take several forms, including:
- Physical abuse – Physical abuse is the use of physical force, such as hitting, pushing, shaking or burning, with the intention of causing pain or injury.
- Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse involves any nonconsensual sexual contact, such as inappropriate touching or rape.
- Emotional abuse – Psychological or emotional abuse is the use of tactics, such as harassment, insults, intimidation or threats, that cause mental or emotional anguish.
- Financial abuse – Financial abuse involves improperly using an older person’s resources for the benefit of another person, for example, by stealing, trickery or inappropriate use of government checks. Inappropriate use of financial power of attorney is another common example.
- Neglect – Neglect occurs when a caregiver refuses or fails to provide the level of care necessary to avoid physical or mental harm. Examples include inadequate attention to food, water, shelter and personal hygiene.
The abuser can be a family member â€” an adult child or a spouse. In institutions, such as nursing homes or group homes, professional caregivers may be abusers.
People age 80 and older, especially women, are at a greater risk of experiencing elder abuse. Older adults who are dependent on others for basic care are particularly vulnerable to elderly abuse.