Elder abuse

Elder Abuse is defined in the UK as: "A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person".

It is important that when we think of domestic abuse that we don’t forget that it can affect anyone of any age! The abuse can come in many different forms

These include:

  • physical abuse
  • psychological abuse
  • financial abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • neglect.

Abuse can occur anywhere:

  • someone’s own home
  • a carer’s home
  • day care
  • residential care
  • a nursing home
  • hospital.

Both older men and women can be at risk of being abused.  The abuser is usually well known to the person being abused.

They may be:

  • a partner, child or relative
  • a friend or neighbour
  • a paid or volunteer care worker
  • a health or social worker, or other professional
  • someone the older person cares for

Often, the people who abuse older people are exploiting a special relationship. They are in a position of trust, whether through family bonds, friendship or through a paid caring role, and they exploit that trust. Very rarely is the abuser someone who provides a family caring role.

Vulnerable adults

An elderly person may be regarded as a “vulnerable adult” or "adult at risk", and there are multi-agency policies and procedures for the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable adults. You should be able to find details of these on your local authority's Adult Safeguarding Board website.

SafeLives produced a report on DA in older people: Safe Older Lives — Older People and Domestic Abuse, 2016

Torbay Council use the following thought provoking video:

National organisations that can offer help

Age UK

We're here for every older person. Online, at the end of the phone, in the local community, to open doors and give everyone a place to turn to.

Helpline- 0800 678 1174

We are HourGlass

Formerly Action on Elder Abuse

Works to protect, and prevent the abuse of, vulnerable older adults and by doing so also protects other adults a risk of abuse. 

Helpline: 0808 808 8141

Further Reading

Age UK- No Age Limit, 2019

Office of the Public Guardian- How we deal with safeguarding issues, 2019

CPS advice on prosecuting crimes against older people, 2019

Safeguarding Adults- A National Framework of Standards for good practice and outcomes in adult protection work

Guidance on Multi-agency meeting regarding older people- SafeLives, 2018- from National Strategy Panel

SafeLives spotlight on Older people and domestic abuse, 2016

Rape of Older People in the UK- Challenging the "Real Rape" Stereotype- 2017

Practitioner Views on the Impacts, Challenges, and Barriers in Supporting Older Survivors of Sexual Violence, 2017

Domestic Homicide of Older People (2010–15): A Comparative Analysis of Intimate-Partner Homicide and Parricide Cases in the UK