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What is elder abuse?

As we get older, some of us may need help looking after our money and paying for things like bills and shopping. Or we may need support getting around or carrying out daily tasks.

If this is your situation, you may have an arrangement you’re happy with where a friend, relative or a carer helps you. 

Sometimes though, things may go wrong or you may find you feel uncomfortable with the situation. Mistreatment doesn’t always involve a stranger. Someone you think of as a friend could mistreat you, perhaps by taking money from you or by making you feel afraid, uncomfortable or hurt.

No matter who’s helping, you’re in charge of making your own decisions and you have a right to be respected and listened to. If you’re concerned about yourself, there are people you can speak to and there is help available. Trust your instinct – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You don’t have to put up with it.

Examples of abuse

Abuse is when someone we expect to trust causes us harm or distress.
Abuse can take many forms, including financial, emotional, physical and sexual.

Some examples of abuse are:

  • stealing or pressurising someone to hand over money
  • making decisions without consulting the person involved
  • treating someone in a way that makes them feel threatened, belittled or embarrassed
  • touching someone in a way they don’t want to be touched
  • physically hurting someone
  • neglecting someone’s needs.

If you’re being cared for, abuse can include not giving you enough food, not keeping you warm, refusing to take you to the doctor when you’re ill, or stopping you from seeing friends and family. It’s possible a person could mistreat you in more than one way.

If you’ve told someone you’re unhappy with the way they’ve been speaking to or treating you, and they don’t change their behaviour, consider whether they really have your best interests at heart. Any kind of abuse is unacceptable, and you have the right to be respected and listened to.

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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