Senior Abuse is most often defined as: “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” (World Health Organization, 2002).
Senior Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of culture, gender, race or financial status. The person causing the abuse could be a family member, friend, neighbour, paid/unpaid caregiver, professional, financial or legal adviser, healthcare provider or salesperson. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.
Physical Abuse – is any action which causes physical discomfort, pain or injury: pushing, shaking, hitting, sexually molesting, rough-handling, deliberate over/under-medication, or the improper use of restraints.
Emotional/Psychological Abuse – is any action or words causing feelings of distress, fear, a sense of worthlessness, or a loss of dignity. Examples are: bullying, threatening, name-calling, humiliating, or treating an older person like a child.
Financial Abuse – is the theft or misuse of money, power of attorney, property or possessions. Examples are: withholding money, forcing the sale of property or possessions, theft, coercing changes in wills, or misusing power of attorney responsibilities.
Neglect – occurs when a person who has responsibility to provide care or assistance, does not do so. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Examples are: failing to provide adequate food, drink or medical attention; leaving an elderly person in an unsafe or isolated situation.
Sexual Abuse – is any sexual behavior directed towards an older adult without that person’s full knowledge or consent
Spiritual Abuse – is preventing a person from practicing his or her faith, or forcing someone to participate in a spiritual ritual, practice, or religion.
Institutional Abuse – can be defined as “any physical, sexual, psychological, financial abuse or neglect occurring within a facility.” Institutional abuse includes “poor standards of care, lack of responses to complex needs, rigid routines, inadequate staffing, and an insufficient knowledge base within the service.”