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What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is when someone physically or sexually abuses, neglects, or financially exploits a person who is sixty (60) years old or older and is not able to protect himself or herself from the abuse because of a mental or physical condition or because of a personal circumstance. Such a person is a vulnerable elder.


Physical elder abuse is when an intimate partner, family member, caregiver, or another person assaults or injures, attempts to assault or injure, or threatens to harm the vulnerable elder, and that person’s actions result in

  • Physical injury to the vulnerable elder that seems inconsistent from the history given for the injury.
  • Unreasonable confinement of the vulnerable elder.
  • Unreasonable punishment of the vulnerable elder.
  • Assault of a vulnerable elder.

Sexual elder abuse is when someone commits or tries to commit a sex act on the vulnerable elder and the sex act is:

  • Done by force or against the vulnerable elder’s will, or the vulnerable elder is not mentally able to consent to the act; or
  • With a family member or close relative, also known as incest.

Sexual abuse may include any form of sexual intercourse, touching or fondling of the inner thigh, groin, genitals, anus or breast, indecent exposure, or invasion of privacy.


Elder neglect is the withholding of minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, physical or mental health care, or other care necessary for life and health of the elder.


Elder financial exploitation is when a person trusted by the vulnerable elder knowingly and with undue influence, deceit, coercion, fraud, or extortion, gets control over, uses, or diverts a vulnerable elder’s benefits, property, resources, belongings, or assets.

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