Elder abuse is any activity that harms or victimizes the well-being of an older person. Virtually anyone can be a perpetrator. Most often, the people who commit elder abuse are family members who feel they have no choice but to care for an aging parent or relative. Professional caregivers have also been known to abuse an elderly person in their charge.

Elder abuse can happen in a variety of ways, always at the expense of the victim. It may be inflicted physically, emotionally, sexually, and financially. The abuse may also take the form of neglect or abandonment.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any action that causes pain or bodily injury. Pushing, shoving, slapping, pinching, hitting, beating, kicking, burning, etc., are all examples of physical abuse. Watch for signs of bruising, breaks, burns, or abrasions.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when an older adult is an unwilling or unknowing participant in sexual activities such as touching, fondling, or intercourse. Look for signs of infection, bruising, or tenderness around the genitals and anus.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is an attempt to manipulate or control a person through verbal assault, harassment, threats, criticism, isolation, punishment, shaming, and ignoring. Look for signs of emotional abuse by observing caregiver behavior and interactions with the older person.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is the exploitation of an older person by misusing, redirecting, or withholding their assets for personal gain. If the caregiver has any financial control, watch bank statements and other financial documents for unusual expenses or transfers.


Whether intentional or not, failure to meet the needs of an older person is abuse by neglect. It might occur when a caregiver deprives an older person of medicine, food, hygienic care, and safety. Look for evidence that routine duties and tasks are being completed. Watch for poor hygiene, signs of dehydration or malnutrition, rashes, bedsores, and more.

If you believe elder abuse of any kind is happening, contact the authorities immediately. You can also contact our team for additional support and information on the topic. Email info@SeniorSafeAndSound.org or call 858-480-7551. Visit our website at Senior Safe and Sound.

This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.