What is elder abuse?


Forms of Elder Abuse


  Double click on wheel to enlarge  


The wheel above describes the different types of Elder Abuse.  For more information please contact you local Elder Abuse Prevention Network, 324-7323 ext. 234 or 1-800-461-0327.


Physical Abuse

Any physical pain or injury that is willfully inflicted upon a person or unreasonable confinement or punishment, resulting in physical harm, is abuse. Physical abuse includes: hitting, slapping, pinching, pushing, burning, pulling hair, shaking, physical restraint, physical coercion, forced feeding or withholding physical necessities.


Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is understood as contact resulting from threats or force or the inability of a person to give consent. It includes, but is not limited to: assault; rape; sexual harassment; intimately touching a senior during bathing; exposing oneself to others; inappropriate sexual comments; or any sexual activity that occurs when one or both parties cannot, or do not, consent.


Financial Abuse

The most common form of elder abuse, financial abuse, often refers to the theft or misuse of money or property like household goods, clothes or jewelry. It can also include withholding funds and/or fraud.


Psychological (Emotional) Abuse

This includes causing mental anguish or fear of violence or isolation. This kind of abuse diminishes the identity, dignity and self-worth of the senior. Forms of psychological abuse include a number of behaviors, for example: name-calling; yelling; ignoring the person; scolding or shouting; insults; threats; provoking fear, intimidation or humiliation; infantalization; emotional deprivation; isolation; and removal of decision-making power.


Neglect can be intentional (active) or unintentional (passive) and occurs when a person who has care or custody of a dependent senior fails to meet his/her needs.


Forms of neglect include: withholding or inadequate provision of physical requirements, such as food, housing, medicine, clothing or physical aids; inadequate hygiene; inadequate supervision/safety precautions; withholding medical services, including medications; overmedicating; allowing a senior to live in unsanitary or poorly heated conditions; denying access to necessary services (e.g. homemaking, nursing, social work, etc.) or denial of a senior’s basic rights.


For a variety of reasons, seniors themselves may fail to provide adequate care for their own needs and this form of abuse is called self-neglect.


Other Forms of Abuse

Systemic Abuse 

Our society, and the systems that develop within it, can generate, permit or perpetuate elder abuse. Most prevalent is discrimination against seniors, due to their age and often combined with any of these additional factors: gender, race, colour, language, ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, ability, economic status, or geographic location.


Examples of Non-Abuse

Not all situations that may be of concern to a senior’s family, friends or caregivers are considered elder abuse. Seniors choosing to give money, gifts or excessive attention to a much younger member of the opposite sex is not abuse. Nor is a well-to-do senior choosing to live in ‘sparse’ conditions.


Elder Abuse Fact Sheet

Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat (OSS), Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration