Though commonly used, ‘elder abuse’ really means a variety of harm to an older person. The Administration on Aging defines elder abuse as “the intentional or negligent act by a family member or caregiver that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an older adult.”
Elder abuse encompasses:
- Physical abuse is inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.
- Sexual abuse is the infliction of non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
- Emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional anguish or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
- Financial or material exploitation is the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
- Neglect is the refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
- Self-neglect is characterized as the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health or safety.
- Abandonment – The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.