Is It Elder Abuse?

The NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) defines elder abuse as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate actions, which causes harm, risk of harm, or distress to an individual 60 years or older and occurs:

  • Within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust; or
  • When the targeted act is directed towards an elder person by virtue of age or disabilities.

The most common forms of elder abuse include;

  1. Physical abuse- Behavior towards an elderly person that results in bodily harm, injury, unnecessary pain, unreasonable confinement or punishment.
  2. Psychological/ Emotional abuse-Threats or actions directed at a senior in an effort to provoke fear of violence or isolation and which may result in anxiety, depression, or mental anguish.
  3. Sexual abuse- Any form of sexual contact that results from threats, force, or the seniors inability to give consent, including assault, rape and sexual harassment.
  4. Neglect-Neglect takes two forms active and passive. Active neglect means that a caregiver has intentionally withheld goods or services that are necessary for the senior’s physical or mental health. Passive neglect occurs when the caregiver fails to recognize the senior’s needs, thereby keeping them from needed goods and services.
  5. Financial Exploitation-Illegal or unethical use of the senior’s money, assets or property for personal gain.


When you’re caring for a senior in any setting it’s important that you are proactive in looking for signs of neglect or abuse. This abuse can come from many people involved in the senior’s life including; family members, healthcare professionals, and other trusted advisors. Your role is to advocate on behalf of the senior if they are not able to do it themselves. Although in most cases seniors are not abused it is in the senior’s best interest for you as the caregiver to report any signs of mistreatment. The Department of Elder Affairs has many programs to ensure the safety of seniors. One of these programs is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The Ombudsman Program provides representatives to advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities through a statewide system of 17 district councils of volunteer ombudsmen. Ombudsmen identify, investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family care homes. If you would like to request a visit from a representative Ombudsman call 1-888-831-0404.

Information provided in part by:

Florida Department of Elder Affairs

Florida’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

E-caring: Elder Justice and Elder Abuse- Two sides of one coin