Abuse is any action or inaction that threatens the health or wellbeing of an older adult. Some people call it elder abuse, senior abuse or abuse of older adults. All abuse is an abuse of power and a violation of trust in a relationship. The harm can be physical, emotional, financial, sexual, or involve some other breach of a person’s rights and freedoms. Neglect is also a form of abuse.
The abused person may or may not realize that their rights have been violated. The person causing the harm may or may not know that their action or inaction is abusive. Bystanders might suspect something is wrong yet be unwilling to get involved or unsure about what to do.
Abuse can happen to anyone at any age. It is a myth that abuse only happens to dependent, frail older adults. Abuse often happens to capable, fully functioning older adults. People are usually ashamed to find themselves in an abusive relationship. They might ask themselves: How did this happen to me? How did I get here? (1)