Let's Talk About Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is 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.

Elder abuse happens and it’s important to know the signs.


Elder abuse can take many forms including:

  • Physical abuse

    Physical abuse is an act that causes physical pain or injury to an older person. It can include, but is not limited to, actions such as hitting, pushing or kicking.

    Inappropriate use of drugs or physical restraints is also an example of physical abuse.

  • Sexual abuse

    Sexual abuse is any sexual behaviour without a person’s consent. It includes sexual interactions and non-contact acts of a sexual nature.

  • Psychological abuse

    Psychological or emotional abuse is an act that causes emotional pain or injury to an older person. It can include insulting or threatening a person, acts of humiliation or disrespect and controlling behaviours including confining or isolating a person.

  • Financial abuse

    Financial abuse is the misuse or theft or an older person’s money or assets. It can include but is not limited to, behaviours such as using finances without permission, using a legal document such as an enduring power of attorney for purposes outside what it was originally signed for, withholding care for financial gain, or selling or transferring property against a person’s wishes.

  • Neglect

    Neglect is the failure of a carer to meet a person’s basic needs such as food, housing and essential medical care.

    Examples include inadequate food and drink, isolation, lack of cultural contact, inadequate supervision, inadequate or appropriate use of medication, unmet physical needs such as decaying teeth and poor hygiene or inadequate skin care.


If you suspect an older person is being subjected to elder abuse, pay close attention and see if you can identify any of the signs or behaviour changes.

If you suspect someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, don’t wait for proof, call the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 651 192 for free confidential advice and referral.