Elder abuse is any action or inaction that threatens the health or wellbeing of an older adult. Some people call it senior abuse or abuse of older adults.
Older adults have the right to live safely, to be treated with respect, and to manage their own affairs. When someone violates those rights and causes harm, that’s abuse. Often the person causing the harm is someone in a position of trust, like a family member, friend, or caregiver.
All abuse is an abuse of power and a violation of trust in a relationship.All abuse is an abuse of power and a violation of trust in a relationship. The harm can be physical, emotional, financial, sexual, or involve some other breach of a person’s rights and freedoms. Neglect is also a form of abuse.
The abused person may or may not realize that their rights have been violated. The person causing the harm may or may not know that their action or inaction is abusive. Bystanders might suspect something is wrong, but be unwilling to get involved or unsure about what to do.
Abuse can happen to anyone at any age. It is a myth that abuse only happens to dependent, frail, elderly people. Abuse often happens to capable, fully functioning older adults. People are usually ashamed to find themselves in an abusive relationship. They might ask themselves: How did this happen to me? How did I get here?
Some abusive behaviour is illegal; all abuse is wrong.
About this overview
This brief overview describes different types of abuse, some warning signs, and some steps you can take to prevent or stop abuse. The information is adapted from the following sources:
- It’s Not Right! Neighbours, Friends and Families for Older Adults
- Understanding Senior Abuse
- A Practical Guide to Elder Abuse and Neglect Law in Canada
Many of our network members across Canada are working hard to develop resources that meet specific needs in their communities. Visit our xxxx page to find out more and to recommend additional links.
Please note: The information on this website is not a substitute for professional legal advice, counselling, or other supports. Elder abuse is complex. A response that is helpful in one situation might be harmful in another. If you have any doubts about what to do in a particular situation, talk to a professional.