Elder abuse is not only physical abuse. There are many different forms. Older adults can be victims without a scratch. Why older adults become targets are multi-factored. Loneliness, depression, dementia and just old fashioned belief that people are good, make seniors vulnerable. Here are some other forms of abuse that effect older adults.


When someone volunteers or is paid to be a caregiver and they do not provide enough food, proper shelter, poor living conditions or reasonable healthcare they are neglectful. Signs include poor hygiene, unattended medical needs or weight loss. These symptoms can be signs of other things so be sure to visit the home environment.

Emotional Abuse

Anything that causes consistent distress or anguish is emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is humiliation, intimidation and threatening.  Symptoms include withdrawing from activity and depression. Some emotional abusers care about their ward, they are simply burned out. These people need a break and counselling/support to deal with their situation. Caregivers who don’t know how to properly deal with those with dementia can be unintentionally cruel. Paid caregivers need a break or to find another profession.


Exploitation is illegally taking someone’s funds, property or assets.  The perpetrator can be a stranger from another country, a family member or trusted caregiver. Seniors need to be made aware of phone schemes, as AI makes them more convincing. Exploiters close to the victim often push other family members away. Make sure you maintain a close relationship with your older relatives and visit often.

Where to turn

If you suspect emotional abuse or neglect you will want to reach out directly to the person’s health care provider for an evaluation. Health care professionals are required to report any suspected abuse. If the potential victim has a relationship with a banker, financial advisor or lawyer, you can consult with them about exploitation. Many of them are also required to report abuse.

You can contact adult protective service in the older adult’s county yourself. Your name will remain confidential. In Summit County, Ohio the number is: 330.643.7217. If someone needs help as a caregiver of someone with dementia, contact the 24 hr. Alzheimer’s hotline, run by the Alzheimer’s Association: 1.800.272.3900.

Older adults deserve our respect but their are many bad actors out there waiting to exploit their vulnerability. If there is any lesson to be learned it is to keep in close contact with your older relatives. Know who interacts with them in person, phone, mail or email. Call and visit often so you can notice changes.