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Elder abuse: The hidden crime

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What types of elder abuse are there?

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Neglect can also be abuse.

Here are some examples of elder abuse. Depending on the circumstances, these actions may be crimes.

Physical abuse

  • assaulting someone, such as slapping, pushing, or beating them
  • forcing someone to stay in a room, bed, or chair

Sexual abuse

  • any form of sexual activity that a person does not want
  • sexual assault

Financial abuse

  • forcing an older person to sell personal property
  • stealing an older person's money, pension cheques, or other property
  • getting money or property from them by using tricks or threats
  • committing identity theft, such as using someone's bank account by pretending to be them
  • using a Power of Attorney in a dishonest way


  • leaving an older person on their own, or not letting them have food or access to health services
  • deliberately not giving a dependant older person what they need

Mental abuse

  • humiliating, insulting, frightening, threatening, or ignoring an older person
  • treating an older person like a child

All abuse is wrong, but not all abuse is a crime.

For example, if a caregiver tells someone that they are worthless, that is abuse. But it is not a crime. But it might be a crime if a caregiver threatens to physically hurt them.

Family members and friends sometimes ask to borrow money. In some situations that might be abuse. But it is not a crime. But it might be a crime if someone, even a family member, takes an older person's money without asking or by bullying.