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Recognising Elder Abuse

Abuse doesn’t discriminate. People of all ages, ethnicity, environment and gender may be vulnerable or at risk. Help starts here.

Last updated: August 30, 2021

Compass knows there are some characteristics or factors that older people who experience abuse are likely to share. These factors can be grouped into three categories: Environmental, Personal, and Perpetrator.

Although these are not the cause of abuse, they should be considered as risk factors and can be helpful in understanding who is at greater risk of abuse.

Environmental factors

The following describe some of the leading external factors that can contribute to or influence vulnerability to abuse.

Carer stress

Dependency

Ethnicity and culture

History of family conflict and dysfunction

Social and geographic isolation

Lack of information about rights

Language and cultural barriers

Living with the perpetrator

Economic pressures

Personal factors

The following describe some of the leading personal factors that can contribute to or influence vulnerability to abuse.

Substance abuse and problem gambling

Disability & poor health

Gender

Financial exclusion

Reduced capacity

Mental health issues

Perpetrator factors

The following describe some of the significant factors that contribute to perpetrators abusing older people.

Age

Children

Husbands, wives and partners

Living with a parent

Substance abuse and gambling problems

Mental health issues

Hostility

What to look for: family, friends, carers

Whether you’re a family member, a friend, a neighbour or carer to an older person, it's everybody's business to look out for the older people in our lives.

Discover how you can play your part in helping to stop elder abuse.

What to look for: signs and behaviours

Knowing if in an older person is experiencing abuse starts by knowing what to look for. These often present themselves in two forms:

Common behaviours

The behaviours or actions as shown by the older person and/or the perpetrator

Common warning signs

The visual clues often associated with elder abuse

These behaviours and warning signs may occur across the five types of abuse experienced by older people.

  • Financial abuse

  • Emotional or psychological abuse

  • Physical abuse

  • Sexual abuse

  • Neglect

To get a clearer understanding of what to look for in each, expand them below.

Financial Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse

Physical Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Neglect