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Who is a Victim of Elderly Abuse

Who is a Victim of Elderly Abuse

Groups most at risk for elder abuse include:

  • Confused, disoriented, or mentally impaired
  • Older women are most commonly reported. Older men may be just as much or even more at risk but are less frequently reported
  • Physically frail or disabled
  • The higher the age, the greater the risk
  • Those who live with a caregiver or depend on someone for care and assistance

Individual characteristics include:

  • Alcohol, medication, or drug abuse
  • Displays behaviour that provokes caregiver (ungrateful, overly-demanding, unpleasant)
  • Has illness that causes behaviour that is stressful for caregiver (verbal outbursts, incontinence, wandering, agitation)
  • Socially isolated and history of poor relationship with caregiver
  • Very loyal to the caregiver, willing to accept blame

Older adults may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone they are being abused by someone they trust. They may fear retaliation or punishment, or they may have concerns about having to move from their home or community. They may also feel a sense of family loyalty. Often, older adults may not be aware of people and resources that can help.

Tips for Older Adults in Preventing Abuse


Older adults living in institutions do not often report abuse when they are experiencing it. This occurs for several reasons, including the following:

  • Be aware of resident rights. Most institutions have a Resident’s Bill of Rights, which often promotes the right to be treated with dignity. Also, in many cases abuse can be a criminal act.
  • Do not be afraid to tell a health care worker that you do not like how you are now or another resident is being treated or touched. Write down what happened, so that you will remember the details when you report it to someone in administration.
  • Older adults may not be aware of their rights.
  • Older adults may be afraid that they will not be believed when they report the abuse, or they feel that there is no one they can trust enough.
  • Older adults may think that if they report the abuse the staff member will treat them even more abusively.

In addition, there are several steps that the elderly and older adults, family members and friends can take to prevent abuse:

  • Attend educational seminars/sessions that are being offered in your community regarding the abuse of older adults, your rights, senior’s safety
  • Become involved in your local abuse of older adults Committee or Network and encourage the development of educational sessions for older adults on their rights
  • Educate yourself about the abuse of older adults and the rights of older adults
  • Get legal advice when creating, and/or have a lawyer draw up a Power of Attorney for Property and/or Power of Attorney for Personal Care for you
  • Have any cheques that you may receive, i.e., pension cheques automatically deposited to your bank account
  • Have bills, such as your telephone bill, automatically paid from your bank account
  • Learn about the rights of seniors and explain these rights to older adults that you know
  • Listen to older adults – take time when speaking to them about their current situation and offer suggestions regarding how they might keep themselves, and their assets, safe
  • Maintain your friendships and maintain contact with loved ones
  • Maintain your friendships and maintain contact with loved ones
  • Only grant attorneyship (as in a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and/or a Power of Attorney for Personal Care) to someone, or some people, that you know you can trust, and whom you know will respect your wishes
  • Stay as active as you can – go on outings with friends; volunteer; join a gym; visit neighbours
  • Take an older friend out to lunch, visit them, call them to see how they are doing – in short, keep in touch older adult family members and friends
  • Write into your Continuing Power of Attorney for Property instructions regarding when it is to come into effect


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