Consequences of Elder Abuse

A lot of progress has been achieved in the previous 35 years in recognizing and raising awareness of abusive relationship patterns. Elder abuse has not only gained less acknowledgment than child abuse and intimate partner violence, but it also continues to get less attention in the public and medical spheres.

What is Abuse?

Abuse is the mistreatment of people of any age or gender, including the mistreatment of children, women, adults, and the elderly. At any age, if a person is dependent on others and vulnerable, abuse can happen. As a result of modernity, people have less empathy, love, and humanity, which leads to unfavorable attitudes toward others, especially the elderly population, increasing their vulnerability to abuse and neglect.

Types of Abuse

There are numerous and various ways that someone can abuse you. The most obvious form of abuse is physical abuse, which includes hitting, shoving, throwing things at, slapping, punching, and kicking the victim, among other bodily aggressions. Yelling, insulting, criticizing, demeaning, and shaming the elderly are all examples of emotional abuse.

When an elderly person is coerced into engaging in any sexual action that they do not consent to or are unable to consent to, this is considered sexual abuse. When an elderly person is forced to provide money or property directly to a caretaker, this is considered financial abuse. People taking advantage of the elderly

What is an Elder Abuse?

The term "elder abuse" (also known as "elder mistreatment," "senior abuse," "abuse in later life," "abuse of older adults," "abuse of older women," and "abuse of older men") refers to "a single, 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."

  • Hourglass (formerly Action on Elder Abuse), a UK organization, proposed the description that the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted. The statutes that guard against abuse of dependent people and those that guard against abuse of the elderly are connected and comparable.

Elder abuse is defined as any deliberate action or inaction on the part of a caregiver or another person in a relationship where there is a basis for trust that results in harm to an older adult or increases the likelihood of such harm. Elder abuse can take five different forms −

  • Financial fraud and psychological assault

  • Sexual assault

  • caregiver malfeasance

  • Violent abuse

  • In contrast to the abuse of other groups of people, the symptoms of elder abuse are typically less obvious. This necessitates that family members keep a closer eye out for any clues that might suggest an elderly relative is a victim of abuse.

Consequences of Elder Abuse

The trauma of elder abuse can result in serious health consequences. Below are some serious consequences −

  • Deterioration in health

  • Hospitalization and increased mortality

  • Clinical issues, such as depression and suicide

  • Social issues, such as disrupted relationships,

  • Financial loss

All of these consequences, in addition to others, lead to diminished independence and quality of life. Although not all elder abuse can be avoided, reporting the abuse can help prevent it from happening to another elderly individual in the future. Furthermore, you should immediately contact an experienced New Jersey elder abuse attorney to protect the legal rights of your loved one and hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Scope of this Problem

Elder abuse is a significant public health issue. According to a 2017 study of 52 studies from 28 different nations and distinct locations, one in six adults (or 15.7%) who are 60 years of age or older have experienced abuse in the previous year (1). The review provides prevalence estimates of the percentage of older persons afflicted by various types of abuse, even if comprehensive data are scarce (see Table 1).

There are few statistics available on the severity of the issue in institutions like hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. Yet, a review of recent studies on the abuse of elderly people in institutions (2) shows that 64.2% of staff members admitted to abusing elderly individuals in the previous year.

Abuse of older people in community settings (1) Abuse of older people in institutional settings (2)
Types of Abuse Reported by older adults Reported by older adults and their proxies Reported by staff
Overall Prevalence 15.7% Not enough data 64.2% or 2 in 3 staff
Psychological Abuse 11.6% 33.4% 32.5%
Physical Abuse 2.6% 14.1% 9.3%
Financial Abuse 6.8% 13.8% Data not available
Neglect 4.2% 11.6% 12.0%
Sexual Abuse 0.9% 1.9% 0.7%

WHO Response

The WHO and partners released "Tackling abuse of older people: five priorities for the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030)" on June 15, 2022, International Elder Abuse Awareness Day. These five goals were determined after extensive deliberation and include −

  • Fight ageism since it contributes significantly to the underreporting of elder abuse.

  • Create more and better data to draw attention to the issue.

  • Create and implement cost-effective strategies to stop the exploitation of seniors.

  • Create an investment case by emphasizing how fixing the issue is a good use of the funds.

  • Raise money because the issue requires greater resources to solve.


Elder abuse is on the rise worldwide and is a cause for concern because it often goes unreported, which encourages victimization again. Many studies evaluated the different types and causes of abuse among the elderly population, the effects of abuse on victims, including physical, psychosocial, and emotional effects, as well as the responsibilities of nursing, society, and healthcare practitioners in elder abuse. Elder abuse has a negative effect on the healthcare system as well as the victim. Abuse results in an increase in hospital admission and mortality rates, which is economical. The ability to evaluate harmful evidence and send patients to social workers for additional evaluation should be possessed by doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the fastest growing form of elder abuse?

Ans. Many Americans are apparently exposed to theft scams due to financial abuse, which is the type of elder abuse that is reportedly growing the quickest. As a result, businesses and other organizations are on the front lines of fraud loss prevention and protection.

Q2. Which person is at greatest risk for elder abuse?

Ans. Seniors who are housebound, women, people over 80, and those who reside in remote areas are at the most risk of elder abuse.

Q3. Which of the following is a consequence of failure to report elder abuse?

Ans. Misdemeanor charges and fines are possible criminal penalties for neglecting to report abuse. Moreover, experts may be held civilly accountable for damages for injury done to elderly victims after they should have filed their reports.

Q4. What is the most common type of elder abuse?

Ans. Neglect is by far the most typical form of elder abuse. Giving them their medication, shielding them from harm, not providing them with food or water, and failing to take care of their cleanliness if they are unable to care for themselves are a few examples of neglect.

Q5. What are 5 major consequences of elder abuse?

Ans. Abuse of elderly people can have severe negative effects on their physical and mental health, as well as their financial situation and social standing. These effects can include, for example, physical harm, early mortality, depression, cognitive decline, financial ruin, and nursing facility placement.

Updated on: 06-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started