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Drugs and diseases reference index

Definition of «Elder abuse»

Elder abuse: The physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of an elderly person, usually one who is disabled or frail.

Elder abuse is an umbrella term used to describe one or more of the following:

  • Physical abuse is the willful infliction of physical pain or injury,such as slapping, bruising, sexually molesting, or restraining.
  • Sexual abuse is the infliction of non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional anguish, such as humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Financial or material exploitation is the improper act or process of an individual, using the resources of an older person, without his/her consent, for someone else's benefit.
  • Neglect is the failure of a caretaker to provide goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish or mental illness, such as abandonment, denial of food or health related services.
  • Self-neglect is characterized as the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health or safety.

Like child abuse, elder abuse is a crime that all health and social services professionals are mandated to report.

The US National Academy of Sciences has defined elder abuse as: "(a) intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended), to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder, or (b) failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder's basic needs or to protect the elder from harm."

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder abuse 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."

All satisfactory definitions of elder abuse encompass two key ideas: that the old person has suffered injury, deprivation, or unnecessary danger, and that a specific other individual (or individuals) is responsible for causing or failing to prevent it.

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