Elder abuse

What is elder abuse?

We define elder abuse as:

'A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person'.

It is important that when we think of domestic abuse that we don’t forget that it can affect anyone of any age! The abuse can come in many different forms

These include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect.

Abuse can occur anywhere:

  • Someone’s own home
  • A carer’s home
  • Day care
  • Residential care
  • A nursing home
  • Hospital.

Both older men and women can be at risk of being abused.  The abuser is usually well known to the person being abused.

They may be:

  • A partner, child or relative
  • A friend or neighbour
  • A paid or volunteer care worker
  • A health or social worker, or other professional
  • Older people may also be abused by a person they care for

Often, the people who abuse older people are exploiting a special relationship. They are in a position of trust, whether through family bonds, friendship or through a paid caring role, and they exploit that trust. Very rarely is the abuser someone who provides a family caring role.

Vulnerable adults

An elderly person may be regarded as a “vulnerable adult” or "adult at risk", and there are multi-agency policies and procedures for the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable adults. You should be able to find details of these on your local authority's Adult Safeguarding Board website.

SafeLives produced a report on DA in older people- Safe Older Lives- Older People and Domestic Abuse, 2016

National organisations that can offer help

Action on Elder Abuse
Action on Elder Abuse run the UK and Ireland's only national, freephone helpline for anyone concerned in any way about the abuse of older people. 
Tel: 0808 808 8141
Website: www.elderabuse.org.uk

The Samaritans
For emotional support.
Tel: 08457 90 90 90
Website: www.samaritans.org

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