Elder Abuse Awareness

"Elder mistreatment is now recognized internationally as a pervasive and growing problem, urgently requiring the attention of health care systems, social welfare agencies, policymakers, and the general public" (Burnes, D.; Lachs, M.; Pillemer, K.; Riffin, C., 2016).




The Government of Canada, Seniors, 2016:

What is elder abuse?

            Elder abuse is any action by someone in a relationship of trust that results in harm or distress to an older person. Neglect is a lack of action by that person in a relationship of trust with the same result. Commonly recognized types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial. Often, more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a repeated and continuous pattern of behaviour.

Why does elder abuse happen?

            Elder abuse often occurs because of the abuser's power and control over an older person. In some situations, the abuse may also result from addiction issues (drugs, alcohol or gambling), mental health problems, a cycle of family violence or ageism. Abuse can happen when the aggressor wants to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person.


Who abuses seniors?

            Older adults affected by abuse often know and trust the person mistreating them. Elder abuse can be caused by a family member, a friend, someone who provides assistance with basic needs or services, or health care providers in institutional settings. In many situations of elder abuse, the abuser is dependent on the older adult for money, food or shelter.

There are many forms of abuse that could happen to seniors, the most common are physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, financial abuse (including fraud) and sexual abuse.



Physical Abuse


Physical abuse of seniors includes actions that injure or risk injuring an older person or cause them physical pain. Physical abuse may include:

  • hitting;

  • pushing;

  • shaking;

  • burning;

  • shoving;

  • inappropriate physical and chemical restraints; or

  • harm created by over or under medicating a person.


Psychological Abuse


Psychological abuse of seniors includes actions that decrease their sense of self-worth and dignity, and may include:

  • insults;

  • threats;

  • intimidation;

  • humiliation;

  • harassment;

  • treating them like a child; or

  • isolating them from family, friends or regular activities.




Neglect includes inactions that may result in harm to an older person and may include a caregiver or family member not providing appropriate:

  • water or food;

  • shelter;

  • clothing;

  • medication or medical attention; and

  • assistance with basic necessities.

Seniors most vulnerable to neglect include those who are socially isolated, and those with serious health conditions.

Financial Abuse (including fraud)


Financial abuse includes actions that decrease the financial worth of an older person without benefit to that person and may include:

  • misusing or stealing a senior's assets, property or money;

  • cashing an elderly person's cheques without authorization;

  • forging an elderly person's signature;

  • unduly pressuring seniors to make or change a will, or to sign legal documents that they do not fully understand; and

  • sharing an older person's home without paying a fair share of the expenses when requested.

Abuse happens when one person hurts or mistreats another. Remember:

  • Seniors are entitled to respect.

  • Seniors have every right to live in safety and security.

  • There is no excuse for abuse.


Walking Soccer Nova Scotia is proudly sponsored by the Government of Canada and the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

The New Horizons for Seniors Program is designed to help ensure that seniors benefit from, and contribute to, the quality of life in their communities through social participation and active living. The program was expanded in 2007 to include elder abuse awareness activities. The Elder Abuse Awareness component of the New Horizons for Seniors Program helps non-profit organizations develop national or regional education and awareness activities to reduce the incidence of abuse of seniors.


To find out more on what the Government of Canada is doing for seniors visit Canada.ca/Seniors or call:

  • 1 800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232)

  • TTY: 1-800-926-9105

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For more information

Call 902.210.6498​