Psychological medicine

Dealing with elder abuse

Brett Coulson



Elder abuse is often under-reported, but it has been shown to be a medical, social and legal problem in Australia.

Article Extract

  • Elder abuse is defined as the wilful or unintentional harm caused to older adults by other persons with whom they have a relationship implying trust. It is often perpetrated by spouses or adult children but also occurs with other family members or by paid or informal caregivers.
  • Several types of abuse are common: physical abuse (including sexual abuse, striking, shaking, use of restraints and improper feeding); psychological abuse (ranging from threats and shouting, ignoring the person, infantilisation and encouraging the victim to become dependent on the abuser); neglect (failing to provide the necessities of life, including withholding prescribed medications); and financial abuse (the exploitation of or inattention to a person’s possessions or funds).