Elder Abuse

Federal definitions of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation appeared for the first time in the 1987 Amendments to the Older Americans Act. These definitions were legally defined to provide guidelines for identifying the problems and not for enforcement purposes. Definitions of Elder Abuse & Mistreatment vary considerably from a state in terms of what constitutes abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly.


Elder abuse or mistreatment is classified into three basic categories:

  • Domestic Elder Abuse – Any of several forms of maltreatment of an older person by someone who has a special relationship with the elder (a spouse, sibling, child, friend, or a caregiver), that occur in the elder’s home, or in the home of the caregiver.
  • Institutional Elder Abuse – Abuse that occurs in residential facilities for older persons (e.g., nursing homes, foster homes, group homes, board and care facilities). Perpetrators of institutional abuse usually are persons who have a legal or contractual obligation to provide elder individuals with care and protection (e.g., paid caregivers, staff, professionals).But this type of Elder Abuse can be controlled by finding true caring affordable assisted living directory. Then by hiring that service from the directory for the senior care, we can achieve peaceful living for our older people. But many Institutions for senior healthcare do not perform their duties which they are supposed to do. Many seniors fall due to institutional staff’s negligence. There should be proper training on seniors fall prevention so it can be reduced to save many lives.
  • Self-neglect or Self-abuse – Neglect is defined as refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties. Self-neglect is a controversial category in relation to elder abuse. The following questions lie at the heart of this controversy. If an individual is competent but chooses to neglect their personal health or safety, is this abuse? Potential factors leading to self-neglect may include long-term chronic self-neglect, dementia, illness, malnutrition & overmedication, depression, and substance abuse. Is intervention, particularly, involuntary intervention, appropriate in cases of self-neglect? These questions depend on the individual case and circumstances, you should seek professional assistance to guide you in making these determinations.

Types of Elder Abuse

The major types of Elder Abuse include the following:


Physical Abuse:

Defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Physical abuse may include but is not limited to such acts of violence as striking (with or without an object), hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse.

Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include, but are not limited to:

  •  Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks.
  • Bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures.
  • Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing.
  • Sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries/bleeding.
  • Broken glasses/frames, physical signs of being subjected to punishment and signs of being restrained.
  • Laboratory findings of medication overdose or underutilization of prescribed drugs.
  • An elder’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked or mistreated.
  • An elder’s sudden change in behavior.
  • The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone.


Sexual Abuse:

Sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing.