Elder abuse is mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust such as a partner, family member, friend or carer. Elder abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. Elder maltreatment can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. Sometimes family, friends and carers may not know that their actions amount to elder abuse.
The World Health Organization describes elder abuse as a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, loss of productivity, isolation and despair. (WHO 2002 Active Ageing Policy Framework). As such, it is an issue that affects not only the person who is impacted directly but also the broader community. Older people have the right, just like people of all ages, to live safely free from harm, abuse, and exploitation. Any actions that breach this right are a form of abuse.